To curate or to fully automate?

To curate or to fully automate, that is the question.

Whether ‘tis possible to pass on the task

Of admin and processes holding you back,

Or to take apart your sea of workflows

And by curating end them.

You don’t have to choose between automation and manual work when it comes to your business processes. In fact, one of the biggest pitfalls of automation is trying to automate everything.

Deciding what you should automate, then, is important for your success. The goal is to strike the right balance between automation and human flexibility. That way, you’ll gain the most benefit for your team and your business. But how do you find that balance?

To curate or to fully automate, that is the question.

The choice explained

Before deciding whether to curate or to fully automate, it’s helpful to remind yourself what the difference is.

  • Fully automating

Fully automating means that your automation software handles the processes entirely on its own. Aside from the initial set up and the occasional check-in, the software needs no human input to complete the tasks at hand.

  • Curating

On the flipside, curating covers processes that are still automated, but need human support. With curated processes, a human team member tells the software what to do on a case-by-case basis.

Determining factors

Done right, automation brings business efficiency. It creates a happier, more productive workforce, and provides a chance to further your business growth. When you’re looking to apply automation to your processes, then, you need to identify which you can fully automate.

The general rule of thumb is that any process that’s repetitive and predictable is a good candidate to fully automate. These are the tasks that require no real thought or understanding to complete. Meanwhile, less predictable processes with distinct steps, are better candidates for curation.

There are three key factors to consider when deciding whether to curate or to fully automate. These are complexity, frequency and security.


How complex is the workflow you’re looking to automate? A complex workflow is one that has a lot of steps and variables that impact which course of action to take.

If the workflow in question is simple, then you can fully automate it. This removes the boring and repetitive work from your team’s daily grind, boosting both morale and efficiency. But, if the workflow is complex, automating it becomes much harder.

It’s worth noting that you can still fully automate some complex workflows. This is thanks to conditional processing. With conditional processing, you can use ‘IF’ statements to specify when automation software should follow a given set of rules.

The crux of the decision here is whether you can predict all the likely variables that the software is likely to encounter. If yes, and the potential triggers aren’t too numerous, then you can fully automate. If no, or there are too many, then you’re better off opting for curation.


How often does the process need completing?

Processes with a high frequency are the predictable, ongoing tasks that make up your team’s daily grind. For example, manual data entry, email parsing, etcetera. High-frequency admin tasks like these are prime ‘fully automate’ candidates.

Low-frequency processes, meanwhile, are more of a grey area. In theory, full automation can still support some low-frequency processes. Provided, that is, they’re not too complex or unpredictable. However, most uncommon processes prove better candidates for curation.

By curating infrequent processes, you don’t need to predict irregular triggers. A human team member can analyse each infrequent situation. Then, they can manually trigger the (more common) automated process best suited to dealing with it. This saves you wasting time automating uncommon processes.


Many processes involve handling and manipulating data. So, security is the third factor to consider.

On the one hand, processes that deal with sensitive information — data that you need to keep secure — could be better off automated. This would remove the risk of internal leaks or breaches caused by human error.

Yet, this could also make it harder to recognise when a breach or leak has happened. Conversely, then, curating such processes would allow for your team to notice errors and issues early. Then they can ensure that sensitive data remains secure and mitigate the damages of a breach.

To curate or to fully automate

It’s often tempting to try to automate everything. But in some cases, this is overkill — and it can cause problems for you and your team.

Indeed, sometimes, it’s better to weave your automation software around your team’s talents. That is, to curate your processes and ensure you’re getting the best from both your people and your automation tool.

To curate or to fully automate, that is the question. And now you know how to answer it.

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