Automations are like magic to end-users. They inexplicably make life easier.
But for the admins who build them, they can feel closer to rocket science. So it’s no wonder that some orgs take a set-it-and-forget-it approach. Why fix what isn’t broken?
But you never want to wait for something to break to get your attention. Crashed automations can cost your org – if not financially, then at least in data quality or time. (p.s. This is also true for integrations, which are even more delicate since they require third-party access to your data!)
Below are 8 questions admins should ask themselves from time to time. Make sure your automations are really serving your org.
8 Questions to Audit Your Org’s Automations
1. When was the last time the automation was updated?
How long ago did an admin or consultant lay eyes on this thing? That alone determines if it’s worth glancing over.
Tip: For integrations, check the last time your vendor released an update too. This should tell you if anything needs to be reinstalled (or reconsidered, if your vendor hasn’t updated their tech in a very long time).
2. What data points does it touch (and are those still relevant)?
If your data model has changed (ex. maybe you added new custom objects or fields), double-check that the automation is hitting the data points your team still uses.
3. Does the automation still work as expected?
Are your records updating properly? Check to make sure that your triggers and outputs are still behaving the way you’d expect.
4. Is the automation still having an impact?
Maybe this flow was created to save time on a task, that has since been made easier with a new feature. Or maybe that real life task no longer happens at your org!
Every automation has a larger purpose. Figure out if that real-life impact still exists, and/or if any tweaks can be made to improve its effectiveness.
5. Is your automation seeing errors?
Depending on the platform, you may get notified as errors occur or you may need to check the logs in your system’s backend. Either way, figure out the cause of any errors you may observe.
One-off errors aren’t a huge deal. But if you’re seeing a pattern, it may be the perfect opportunity to adjust something somewhere – be it the tech itself, or your org’s overall process.
6. How does it relate to other, active automations?
You want to make sure that your automations aren’t undoing each other somehow, or adding unnecessary strain and processing time to your system.
Oh, and also….when we talk about marketing automation, this question is especially important! Make sure your automated email processes (along with your manual ones) don’t cause constituents to get overwhelmed with irrelevant messages!
7. Is there room to simplify / optimize?
If enough time has passed, there may be room to simplify your automations if:
- Your data has been restructured or organized in a simpler way
- Your vendor has new features that make parts of your automation obsolete
- You yourself have become a pro since the automation first went live!
Whatever may be the case, optimize whatever you safely can! Don’t make your system work harder than it has to.
8. Will anyone notice if it’s gone?
Let’s say you decide that an automation should no longer see the light of day! Before you nix it, try to anticipate the after-effects. Who will miss it, or notice that it’s gone?
When in doubt, I like to de-activate for a period of time first. It gives users (and myself!) the chance to spot any issues before making any hard-to-reverse decisions.
It’s so hard to say goodbye…
…but sometimes, those automations have got to go! Remember to make automation and integration audits part of your regular database maintenance routine.