3 Ways Automation Can Hurt Your Business

Okay – raise of hands… how many of you have been told that the way to get ahead in your business is to automate as much as possible?

I can’t tell you how many people are shocked to hear that, as a systems expert, I still do quite a bit of work manually. Sound like a contradiction? Not if you zoom out a little.

Automation is a great way to share the burden of your workload with tools and apps. However, unless done thoughtfully, too much automation can cause some serious problems for you. There’s a sneaky little trap hiding in automation and if you aren’t looking for it, you’ll end up in a pretty big hole.

As we’ve discussed many times before, intentional automation can help you work more efficiently and create consistency in your quality of work. Good automation can look like filters/rules in your inbox to organize messages, templated text that provides a solid starting point for responding to messages, and checklists for workflows. All of these ensure you’re never starting from scratch but also leave the door open for customization based on the appropriate needs.

However, if you aren’t careful… automation can lead to some pretty significant issues.

Out of Sight – Out of Mind

The more you automate, the less you touch it, the more likely things will fall through the cracks. Whether it’s using a scheduler assistant or automated activities in a CRM, any action that is moving without your input is at risky of being forgotten or neglected. To avoid this, keep a list of what automations you have active and what softwares they live in. Then set a reminder for you or a member of your team to check in on them at regular intervals. Depending on your needs, this may be once a week, month, or quarter.

Lack of Personalization

Yo – newsflash, people don’t like to work with robots. If they are looking to work with you, they want to work with you. The top mistake with automation is a reliance on it as a substitute for human action. Unfortunately, this can lead to miscommunications and poor client experience. Instead, think of automation as a starting point for building a robust and valuable client experience. Take the time to review and provide thoughtful customization – and ensure you’re meeting the needs of the client first and foremost. 

Removal of Human Filter

Nothing, and I repeat, nothing will ever replace human insight. Automation may cause more problems than it solves and, as a result, even more work. Sure, your system can send out emails precisely at the right time, but does it send a super cheery message in the middle of a national crisis? Does your calendar scheduler effortlessly distinguish between travel arrangements and regular phone calls when deciding when you’re available? To keep everything in check, factor in an approval process into your work streams. Also, as suggested above, keep tabs on what’s automated so you can update or pause as needed.

If your automations have gotten away from you and you’d like to review how your systems work, my Essential Systems VIP Day is the perfect solution to quickly audit and edit your workflows. In one day, we’ll tackle your biggest pain points and questions so you can get back on track and focus on your work. Learn more about my VIP Days here.


Jen Lawrence is a productivity and systems expert passionate about creating ease through systems. With over fifteen years of administrative and project management experience, she helps entrepreneurs develop custom client experience and operations solutions so they can transition from the Chief of Everything to CEO. Learn more about Jen Lawrence at http://www.jenlawrence.co.

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