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February 13, 2018
Automation  |  5 min read

5 Business Automation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Bryan Christiansen

Business automation is everywhere. Whether it be automation of a specific department, task, business unit, or a process, today’s businesses cannot go without it. Automation has several benefits such as cost reduction, increase in productivity, performance, and more.

automation performance graph

CMMS statistics show that 37 percent of businesses plan to increase investment in automated tools like CMMS and 32 percent plan to invest in analytics software in next three years. These statistics are encouraging but not all businesses succeed with automation and end up making mistakes that cost them a lot.

If you’re planning to get started with business automation, make sure you don’t make following most repeated mistakes.

1. Not understanding what to automate

Not having a clear understanding of what you’re about to automate is a serious mistake that you shouldn’t end up with. Do you want to automate a specific maintenance task or you like to automate marketing?

Before you proceed with the automation, you have to fully understand the process and/or tasks.

Let me share an example:

Pebble automated its invoicing system with an intention to save money. It now saves over $8,000 on paper each year. Over 97 percent of invoices are handled electronically. If you know what you’re automating and why you’re automating it, you’ll start seeing results fairly quickly. Else, it won’t work.

2. Automating large independent tasks

Businesses end up automating big independent tasks and processes—and this is where they're wrong. When several independent tasks are automated, they become silos that become too hard to integrate at a later stage.

Don’t do it.

Instead, divide independent tasks into small parts and automate these tiny parts over an extended period of time. It might seem a lot of work but it is the best approach. You’re not Amazon or Domino’s that can automate its entire delivery service. Large businesses have all the resources. They can do it, you cannot.

Therefore, automate small repetitive tasks that aren’t strategically important for your business, for instance, email marketing. You can fully automate your business’s email marketing without losing control over your marketing strategy.

The best approach is to solve specific problems with automation just like Pebble. Once you have solved one specific problem, move to the next.

3. Not taking your team onboard

Businesses often don’t understand that making a change is easy, making people accept the change and live with it is hard. This is where businesses struggle. They adopt automation without taking their team onboard.

It’s your employees who will make or break the deal.

There are two critical phases where you need to ensure your team is with you:

  1. Testing and implementation of the automated solution
  2. Training and adaptation

According to Robert Al-Jaar, the two most critical factors that make any automation successful are executives and managers who love tech and an organizational culture of communication and celebration.

Ask yourself, does your business have these two factors before automating a process?

4. Not calculating ROI

If you’re using automation because everyone else is doing it, you’re making a mistake that numerous businesses had already made.

Investing in automation just because it is the latest trend or there is a perfect software to do a specific task—isn’t a great idea.

Don’t invest in automation without calculating its ROI:

  • How much the tool cost?
  • What will be the cost of implementation?
  • What will be its running cost?
  • What will be employee’s training and development cost?
  • Is it really efficient than your workforce?

These are a few questions that you should have data-backed answers to.

5. Lack of supervision

This happens to be the simplest but deadliest pitfalls of automation. Businesses lose control, mostly intentionally, of their automated processes. Lack of supervision can make your (future) competitive advantage (automation) into your business’s biggest failure.

This is what happens when you use automated Twitter replies without supervision.

Patriots twitter

New England Patriots automatic bot replied to a racist account that included racial slurs. The tweet was removed after an hour with an apology but the damage had already been done.

Implementing automation doesn’t mean you need to fire employees immediately. You still need them for supervision and management. Tools and software cannot manage and fix themselves. Train your employees so they can use and supervise automation.

Final words

Business automation is a great way to improve performance, effectiveness, and reduce cost. A carefully planned and well-implemented automation can push your business in the right direction. Don’t let these mistakes ruin your business automation.

25 Things Every Small Business Should Automate - Download Now

Bryan Christiansen is founder and CEO at Limble CMMS. Limble CMMS is a mobile first, modern, and easy to use CMMS software. We help take the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate and streamline their maintenance operations.


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