In the software development industry, if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. Automate your processes or you will regret it in the long run.

Today folks, I want to join the cool kids and say that you should automate your processes or you will regret it in the long run. And not in the sort of “Oh boy this sure is annoying, I wish I didn’t have press this combination of buttons every week”  way but rather the “Oh s@#$, if this had been automated we would be able to figure out what the he** went wrong here.”

I apologize if my cursing offends you, but it’s in a quote so it’s fine. I know what I’m talking about because I hadn’t automated, and things went south. Not only did everything take exponentially longer as the process grew, but as the complexity of what I was doing grew, the whole state became very prone to errors. First it was a simple copy paste, then it was another, and another, now I’m copying six folders and an optional seventh, three of which have to first be published, two that have to be built, one has to remain unaltered, and the last depends on a state of one of the prior folders. Of course where and when the errors would occur was nearly impossible to know, so when it hits the fan, you’re standing right under it. As a side note, I’ve always imagined the fan in that saying as being a ceiling fan. I suppose it could be hitting a stand alone fan, but I’ve always felt that would cause more damage to the fan than to the rooms Feng Shui.

Of course hindsight is 20/20 (I guess that means we’ve all got x-ray vision when it comes to other people’s flaws) and knowing that you’ve got a problem is only half the battle, so what really matters is taking the steps to make improvements. Now, I don’t really know what is going to happen to fix the problem that we’ve got there (I should note that while I don’t want to pass the buck, I did inherit the copy-paste problem, I was just using it as an example of why we need to automate things, and how desperately certain projects need it), but we are taking steps towards fixing the issues. We’ve already had a couple of internal meetings on how to take what we’ve got and put the proper practices behind it, at the same time we’re addressing other areas of weakness, like our git strategy (which is worth spending lots of time on, but that’s for another post… and probably another blogger).

So while we may not have gone down the correct road the first time, perhaps the second pass will be a little better and a little less bumpy. Who knows, perhaps by retirement I’ll be walking on a beautifully paved road that’s well maintained and free of potholes.


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