Kicking the Hedgehog – A case for Automation

Hi there, this is my first of hopefully many blogs. I thought I’d start things off talking about hedgehogs and automation, too things that go hand in hand right?? Don’t worry it will all make sense.

When trying to sell the value of automation in a business one of the key problems I say it can overcome is dealing with complacency. When you have a long, repetitive, mind numbing task to do, after performing it time and time again there is the temptation to cut corners to complete it faster. Because, let’s face it, there are other priorities you would rather focus on. Over time, this may mean skipping out essential steps just to get it over with sooner, you become complacent. This can be when bad things happen!

Time for my anecdote :).

Every night at our house I will the rubbish out to our outside bins. It’s just a short five meter walk outside, through a gate, no big deal. It’s normally dark so my process is:

  1. Find shoes
  2. Put on shoes
  3. Get rubbish
  4. go outside
  5. open gate
  6. put rubbish in bin
Exhibit A: The evil hedgehog
Exhibit A: The evil hedgehog

A simple  six step procedure right?, well, after performing this over and over, I started getting complacent. I stopped putting on shoes, as this task would take up most of my time (I have two little kids who like to hide daddy’s shoes!). Awesome!, it’s now a four step process, that’s a great return on investment. So I carried on doing this for a few weeks, until one night…

One rather mild night, I was taking the rubbish through the gate as I do every night, without shoes on,  when all of a sudden I kick something… Initially all I hear is the sound of something skimming down my driveway at pace because I hit it pretty hard. After a few seconds, the pain sets in. Sure enough, I’ve just punted a hedgehog down my driveway! The poor little thing was kind enough to leave half a dozen quills sticking out of my feet.

So, as you can see, complacency can cause bad things to happen. Now, if this procedure was automated, (which would probably require some sort of trash robot) you know it would get it right every time, because computers do exactly what you program them to do, there is no risk of complacency.

In a business environment, the risk of not following business processes correctly can be a lot worse than punting a small mammal. For important repetitive tasks within a business, automation (such as PowerShell Workflows / Azure Automation etc..) can make a big difference to ensure consistent accurate results every time.