In 1973, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, aka BTO, released its Bachman-Turner Overdrive II album. This album included the single Takin’ Care of Business. Most of us have heard this song in some setting or other; its memorable chorus can be quite the earworm:
And I’ll be taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
I’ve been taking care of business (it’s all mine)
“It’s all mine”…this is what we should be doing as well, taking care of business…because it really is all ours. Often, we get blinded by technology and process, which hinders our ability to focus on delivering value to our customers; this is our business. I find this is especially true in our automation endeavors; we get blinded by wanting to automate “everything”.
There is, however, a decision to make prior to “what do we automate?”; we first need to ask “should we automate at all?”. Making this decision is an exercise left to the reader, but here are some questions whose answers can help us (the readers) perform that exercise: decide whether or not we should automate.
- What business problem are we trying to solve?
- Will applying technology to (i.e. automating) some facets of our team’s work be helpful in solving that business problem?
- What value do we expect to get from automating some aspect of our business?
- Given we have limited funds (i.e. “a budget”), what will we have to sacrifice in order to make automation happen? (i.e. what’s the opportunity cost?)
- Do we believe that automation will provide greater value than using that money for other purposes?
- Is the answer to the previous question an answer for the short term or the long term?
This is not intended a prescriptive questionnaire nor is it meant to be exhaustive; these are some of the things that we should consider asking before undertaking an automation initiative.
What are some questions that you like to ask prior to an automation endeavor?