Friday January 05, 2018

An automation project is a marathon, not a 100m sprint

Topics: Automation


Several weeks ago, I completed my second marathon, here in the city Ghent. While training for the 42,198 km (don’t underestimate the extra 198 meters!) and running the actual race, I had a lot of time to think. It’s during this solitary, goal-driven time that the analogy between running a marathon and setting up an automation project suddenly occurred to me. (The things you think of to take your mind off pain!)

Long term-vision

It is impossible to say today that you want run a marathon tomorrow. If you are starting from scratch, it will take between one and two years before you will be able to finish this legendary distance. You will need to plan very carefully and have a step-by-step approach to reach your goal: change your intensity, your food, your running technique etc.

The same goes for an automation project. You cannot purchase a solution today and think that you will reach your goal of total automation by tomorrow. Implementing an automation solution requires a long-term vision and careful planning. The key is to implement it step-by-step, making adjustments and changes as you go, while all the time working towards an automated structure: software installation, new procedures, change employee behavior etc. Jumping from nothing to your desired situation immediately is not advisable. It should be seen as a sequence of continuously improving and sustaining the improved situation over a reasonable period of time.  

Continuous improvement

Let’s go back to the running scenario: You start with running twice a week and after a while you  increase this to three times a week. Now you need to sustain this, with three training sessions per week to keep this higher level of fitness. If you don’t, you’ll lose the gained benefit of increased fitness. But if sustained, you will, after a while, improve enough to increase your frequency and duration, and move up to four training sessions a week. That way you build up towards our desired situation: the goal of the marathon.

The same goes for automation: you cannot jump to the ideal situation immediately. You start by first implementing some simple automation flows. This will help to change the behavior of your employees and for everyone to see the real benefit of automation. From that moment it is very important to sustain this new situation. Don’t go back to before. Once this improved situation is sustained, new flows can be implemented and the automation level increased, step-by-step.

The Law of Reduced Returns

In the beginning, when you start to run, your body condition increases very quickly. But if you continue to do more of the same you will see that the impact of what you are doing will flatten out over time. At that moment you need new stimulations to be able to make that next jump.

The same goes for implementing an automation solution. You start with a white screen and in the beginning you can gain a lot of automation very quickly by using your current knowledge of the solution. But if you want to take the next jump in your automation project, you will need to find new features to work with. And these can be found by reading customer testimonials, joining webinars, attending user conferences etc. Get inspired to make the next jump and get more out of your automation project!

One more thing…

Yes, indeed sometimes it hurts. But in the end, you are better off: more dynamic, healthier and ready for the future. The same applies for your employees and your company – automation is the healthy choice for your business but remember, it is a marathon and not a 100m sprint. Now it is time to take the first step.

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About Tim Bernaerdt

Tim Bernaerdt

Tim Bernaerdt joined Enfocus in 2013. As the Customer Success Manager, Tim and his team focus on creating a personalized and human experience for our customers.

Tim strongly believes that all companies in any kind of business can gain tremendously from automation and thus looks after the automation journey of the Enfocus customers.

Tim holds a master’s degree in physical education. In his spare time, you find him running or coaching youth basketball teams.

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