Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Overzealous Office Automation

In the quest for efficiency, it's easy to get caught up in a desire to automate all the processes of your business.  Sometimes, however, you can go too far and hurt your performance or productivity by excessive automation.

This is another way of saying that software design can fall into traps where it is needlessly complex, fails to deal with abnormalities that arise, or provides unhelpful feedback to users.

One of the warning signs of excessive automation is when users experience exceptions to the standard process and then stop using the system and fall back to manual processes.  In many cases, business rules are difficult to extract from users and may be so oversimplified or needlessly complex that when you automate a process it becomes too brittle to stand up to the real world.

The best way to validate how far to go with automating tasks is to get feedback from users.  Doing comparative tests with features can identify opportunities to simplify your system.

When a new software product is put into production, many development teams and managers heave a sigh of relief and then turn their attention elsewhere.  Instead, this is the time that work should begin on assessing the effectiveness of the solution and ways to improve the user experience.

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