Where automation washes out

Automating a purchase order flow across the enterprise makes plenty of sense. But attempting to automate things that maybe didn't really need automation is another story.

Automating a purchase order flow across the enterprise makes plenty of sense. But attempting to automate things that maybe didn't really need automation is another story. As fellow ZDNet blogger Michael Krigsman pointed out in a recent post, an attempt by a European university to automate its enterprise student laundry system turned into a comedy of errors. Simply logging into the system to reserve a machine and make a payment became an ordeal -- the first of many -- for end-users.

The lesson is that some processes, though manual and perhaps old-fashioned, simply work, and perhaps are better off left alone. And remember Dan Kusnetzky's classic "Golden Rules of IT:"

  1. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
  2. Don’t touch it, you’ll break it.
  3. If you touched it and it broke, it will take longer to fix and, in all likelihood, cost more than you think to fix.
  4. Good enough is good enough.
  5. Don’t make major changes unless people are screaming!
  6. Embrace your “jerkdom.”

Note on the last two items: I doubt if any students were screaming for an enterprise laundry system. And in terms of "jerkdom," Dan acknowledges that even with our best efforts with limited resources, we still must "accept the fact that years from now someone will look at what was done and come to the conclusion (based upon what they know then) that what was done was insufficient in some way or didn’t properly forecast future events and requirements."