Be Careful with Automation

Note: Because I have the smartest readers in the association universe, I often receive fantastic tips and advice from them. The following tips were provided by Will Slade of Protech Associates (with an introduction, conclusion, and light editing by me).


As I often point out, one of the reasons I love technology is because it allows me to be lazy. If I'm smart, I can make my technology do most of the heavy lifting for me.

But even I will admit that it's possible to have too much of a good thing. And that includes having too much automation. Here are four tips from Will to help you avoid too much of a good thing.

  1. Avoid too much blind automation. These are workflows that update key aspects of the AMS without any human review. Important data is getting updated or overwritten and emails are going out for vital processes that should have a human eye review. With staff turnover, sometimes the new staff have no idea that workflows are making these often permanent changes.
  2. Leverage manually triggered workflows. In the above example, the same workflow could be leveraged but set to be triggered manually once the human eye has reviewed. This allows for the efficiency and scale of automation but still allows staff to review key processes.
  3. Review automation periodically. Associations often set up a task to be automated that over time is no longer needed, but the original automation remains “activated." That workflow/automation is still out there consuming AMS server resources. Over time, these unneeded workflows add up.
  4. Consolidate automation. For example, a workflow is built that sends an email upon creation of a new event registration. Then there are dozens of other separate workflows that run off of the same creation of a new event registration – each individual workflow with its own purpose. Each workflow consumes resources. One single workflow that groups tasks off the same action (such as creation of an event registration) consumes fewer resources and is easier to manage over time.

Automating processes frequently makes sense. But just like too much salt in your food, over-using automation can actually turn a good thing bad. Follow these tips to ensure your automation is operating at peak levels.

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