the sky floor

Can’t We Just Automate That?

March 4, 2021

You sit down at your computer and stare at 100 rows of spreadsheet. All these points of data have to end up in the backend of your website. If you don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome yet, you are going to. You wonder, can we automate this?

We run across this question all the time. When we are building a new website, the question comes up about copying over existing content. Or when needing to import an extensive catalog into an eCommerce store. The answer isn’t always cut and dry!

The problem is two-fold:

  1. Nothing beats human oversight for checking the quality of information.
  2. Automation isn’t built automatically (yet).

Automation Isn’t Automatic.

Someone has to create every automation you run across. It is easy to overlook this colossal point. When a client approaches us with an idea to automate a task, we ask this question: will it save more time in the future than it will take to create the automation?

Often, the answer is a resounding no. Recently we had this scenario play out – a website we are building needs an update to a time field once a week. To program this automatically would have been the equivalent of five years worth of the manual task! Not worth it. 

Automation can easily tip the other direction. If creating an automated process saves 100 hours but takes 10 to make, that is a type of profit. Be warned, though, checking your automation is still a human task!

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Keep Your Eyes on the Automation.

Automatic systems frequently fail. There are a ton of reasons for this, but the key is to have oversight. Often, when we are building a new website, we recommend a manual transfer of the data. Why? We want to ensure each page comes out precisely as it should. 

If there is even a question of accuracy in making the process automatic, you save time with a manual process. Computers don’t discriminate, which is a great strength. But a single misplaced or improperly encoded character can cause chaos. 

Can’t We Just Automate That?