Engineering Improvement Runbook | Engineering Automations

Photograph of Dylan Etkin

Dylan Etkin

August 9th, 2023

Push-button automations: Making the case with three XKCD comics

Push-button automations make it easy to automate software development

Most teams will tell you they have more things they can automate than they already have. Why haven't they done more? XKCD figured it out long ago :)

#1 The smaller tasks are just not worth the time investment, especially when we operate on a short-term horizon — which we pretty much always do. Otherwise, we'd have much less technical debt, right?

Taken on a case-by-case basis, the amount of time you’ll save from one automation might not make building it worth the time. But when you add up a lot of small tasks that can be automated with a simple click, then the impact can be quite significant.

#2 Building and maintaining automations isn't always as easy as it appears, especially when the automations span entire workflows or across your toolchain.

We all know that things are rarely as easy as they appear, but what if they really were easy? What if you could simply push a button, automate away the toil-inducing tasks, and free up a bunch of time for more meaningful, useful, and impactful work? What if?!?

#3 Identifying which best practices best fit your team's specific needs can be half the battle sometimes. There isn’t always one right answer, so teams actually need to experiment and do the discovery work — and that makes the investment riskier.

If you don’t have to invest in building the efficiency yourself, though, then experimentation becomes a lot less risky. Even better, if you can turn on the automation, test it, and get the results quickly, then you know if it worked and if it’s worth continuing — and you can reap the time-saving benefits sooner.

Push-button automations solve all three of these challenges for you. With a literal click of a button, you can turn on an automation quickly for tasks of all sizes, reduce the amount of time it takes to see the benefit of automating tasks, and reduce the amount of time spent on discovery and experimentation to know what works.

That’s why we think automations will allow teams to experiment as freely as they’d like, and avoid the perils that might be preventing them from reaching a level of engineering efficiency they’re capable of.

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