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What makes useful automation?

Written 11 April, 2018, 3 minutes to read

Automation is as much a fashion trend as it is a liberating concept. Tons of companies build automated features into their apps to sell a vision of the future without delivering any real substance. But in certain situations – at work or home – automated apps make incredible sense. We’ve put together a few thoughts on what valuable automation actually looks like.

When automation makes sense

Automation doesn’t have to be applied on a grand scale to be significant. In fact, some of the most positive effects of automation are felt at the small level, reinventing how we manage and order our day-to-day lives. Here are some of the most useful reasons for using automation:

Getting there faster

Time-saving innovations like text prediction help speed up our heavy analogue interactions to get us where we want even quicker. Using automation, some apps let you set one-click rules to speed up frequent actions, from adjusting light switches and streaming music to controlling thermostats and placing grocery orders.

Personal sanity

Some tasks are universally despised – repetitive processing and admin tasks, we’re looking at you! Thankfully, automation can relieve you of the worst so you can do something more rewarding with your time. Apps can now auto-file your emails and even create your timesheets for you.

Security

Auto-saving and continuous cloud back-ups is a great way of ensuring file security. Apps that automatically push photos and videos to secure online repositories offer great “digital insurance” against potential device failure or theft.

Protecting against error

Automation takes machine reliability to a ridiculous scale. By running constantly in the background, automatic apps can capture all significant data to provide the most accurate calculations and insights possible. Nothing is forgotten or misrepresented.

Boosting productivity

Once you’ve automated your low-value tasks, you’ll have a lot more time on your hands to dedicate to productive work. But apps can also automatically track all your activity to reveal insights on how you actually use that productive time, to help you get even more from it.

Reducing expenses

The improved efficiency and productivity that comes with automation sits rather well with your bottom line, since you waste less billable time and resources on low-value work. But several automated apps also help you track performance and costs in real-time, so you can run more profitable projects and teams.

Example: automatic time tracking

Automatic time tracking is a perfect example of genuinely useful automation, based on the following:

- It improves the accuracy of essential business reporting

- It frees people to focus on rewarding work

- It reduces the overhead of time tracking

- It provides a complete picture of company heath and performance

- It eradicates one of the world’s most hated admin tasks

Automation just makes sense here, since time tracking simply shouldn’t involve any time wasting. It can feel weird automating something so deeply engrained into your routine, but you soon realize you get the same benefits of the manual approach without any of the self-punishment.

A personal decision

Many people will still prefer manual approaches for their familiarity, longevity and structure (some even get whimsical about manual inefficiencies…). So, if you’re looking to introduce automation in a team environment, make sure everyone is fully consulted. Try it out together, talk it over, see if it can work long-term.

As a general rule, always ask yourself: “what value does automation actually bring me?” If it simply means never having to do a boring repetitive task ever again, give automatic a go!

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