3 steps to automate your tasks

Post by on 18-09-2013

In every company there’s at least one (but more often a dozen) tasks that could be automated and they aren’t because „it’s too complex", „it’s too expensive", „we need dedicated hardware", „we need more licenses" or other similar excuses. But is it really true?! Do you really need new hardware and software, new licenses, complex network (client/server) programming? In today’s world of cheap cloud servers? Really?

Well, you’ll always find those „I do not like monthly fee" type of managers or administrators, but don’t you always actually pay some form of monthly fee? No, those people would say, we buy our servers’ hardware and OS licenses (or pay someone to set up some free OS) and that’s onetime fee. And that’s it! Finish, end, finito, no more payments, not from us.

Great! And I suppose that server lasts forever. No new hardware, no software upgrades, no maintenance, nothing. Perpetum mobile!

I do not think so. No matter how advanced it was when you bought it your hardware will become obsolete in 3 years, and vintage in 5. Software will get outdated in even less time. So basically you are paying monthly fee, you’re just doing it upfront for 3 years.

Now when we solved that, is there any real reason left not to automate those small tasks that make everybody’s life difficult?

Step 1 - Define the tasks you’re going to automate

Just talk to your co-workers. Ask them what they do on a daily bases, what tools do the use and how they save their work. Ask them if that is something that they could share with others and if they could, would it speed the workflow up. Ask if they have need for those data when they are out of the office (through Internet). Then make a list of priorities for automating tasks based on impact it will have on the company’s efficiency.

Step 2 - Lease a cloud server

Why cloud and not dedicated, shared or virtual? Shared hosting is not for any serious use; even your company web site should not use cheap, DIY shared hosting (I will not argue on this, we can leave it for some other article, so feel free to do whatever you want with your site), but more important – with shared hosting you depend upon server administrator and his (her) decision what can and what cannot be installed on their server. Dedicated and virtual servers are OK, but you still depend upon hardware, and providing enough redundancy can be really expensive. Also, upgrading hardware is a nightmare and it is an expensive one. And if you need to downgrade your server, it will not save you money (the money has already been paid upon upgrade or initial installation). Cloud servers are hardware independent, scalable, redundant and not expensive - even the largest and the best providers have something under $100/month. With smaller players you can go under $50. However, this is not a good place to cut expenses.

Step 3 – Install proper platforms based on your knowledge and your needs

Sometimes you’ll just need to slightly modify some open-source solution (not always recommended) and in some cases you’ll need to do everything from the scratch. You can always hire a coder to make an application based on your design (application design, not graphic design) or a programmer to do the whole thing based on your description of the tasks. In either case, you’ll have your tasks automated and your co-workers will be more efficient (or at least they will have no more excuses for being inefficient).

Now, I know you can say for all three steps that it is easier to say than to do, but even then you can automate your tasks by hiring someone (Small applications team?) to do everything for you – from analyzing the problem(s) to developing and hosting your application(s), for monthly fee smaller than what you would pay for cloud server.

Maybe you do not see it, but you actually do not have any excuse not to automate those tasks.

3 steps to automate your tasks

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