On walkabout in life and technology

Hiltmonism - Automate or Die

Computers are excellent at performing dull repetitive structured tasks, yet many organizations use armies of people to perform these tasks. Computers are also great at following along the same mind numbing process over and over again (we call this programming), yet we tend as users of computers, to perform these tasks manually on our computers.

Today’s Hiltmonism is very simple. Automate or die. Make the computer do the work so you can have a life.

Why automate your business flows? People make mistakes, call in sick, forget to perform tasks, leave and get things wrong. A computer, when properly programmed, gets it right all the time. Automation was supposed to free us humans from drudge at work, and I believe that software is the solution to this. Reconciliation’s, automate, sending data out, automate, integration, automate, repetitive process, automate.

Why automate on your computer? If you find yourself inputting the same commands over and over again in your computer to deploy a product, you should automate. Testing, automate. You already use it. Makefiles, project files and IDE’s automate the complexity of compiling software for you.

Automation can and does fail. Programs crash, the environment changes, exceptions happen. It is here where people are needed. When automation cannot complete a task, alert and document the exception and allow people to deal with it. People are great at solving problems and dealing with exceptions, as long as they are not overloaded or mind numbed by drudgery.

How do I know this works? With comprehensive automation, my software ran a 900 million dollar hedge fund with two back office guys and an accountant event though we had many funds, brokers, administrators and systems to integrate. The people dealt with exceptions, and we never saw the actual processing going on.

So next time you find yourself repeating a task over and over again, at work or on your computer, automate it, and get a life.

This article is part of a series on Hiltmonisms, a series of catch-phrase ideas that I have been learning, developing and using for years to improve my craft and the craft of those around me.