We can code for a quick solution, or we can focus on developing automation for the same.  There are times when we stumble across the latter while concentrating on the former.  However, it is better to focus on automating the solution.  This approach is not science, but the steps can help you overcome obstacles when you hit a brick wall.

Steps For Developing Automation

It is critical to understand that a process must be well-defined before we can begin work on automation.  Therefore, it is worth our time to gather all of the requirements.  Once we have collected those, we can work on a general solution.  If that is too big a step, then start with a simple, specific answer and then try to find ways to generalize it.

It is important to note that sometimes there will be steps that appear impossible to automate.  That is ok; we can automate the easy stuff first and then work on those pieces later.  A 50% solution is better than a 0% solution.

Rinse and Repeat

Make sure you document the steps as you put together the first solution.  When you have partial automation, his documentation is critical to future improvements.  See what I did there?  I assumed there would be future improvements.  The key to true automation is to regularly review systems that are not 100% automated.

These reviews will give you a chance to automate steps that had to be left manual.  The review may include new resources, new understanding, or an increased value of automating those steps left behind.  Of course, you may also find that the 50% solution was all that was needed.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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