Fear holding back
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Challenges in Automation Decisions: Fear of Failure

Automating manual tasks – or replacing an older system with newer automation – seems like a no-brainer.  An automated, more current solution would be better, right?

You’d just do the research.  Find the best functional fit for your needs and environment for the best price – and go.

Or would you?

It might surprise you that 40-60% of teams that start this process don’t move forward with a new automated solution.

Or maybe it wouldn’t surprise you.

The common assumptions for inaction are that the status quo is fine, it has to do with costs, or that other priorities have come up.

These factors occur, but three other reasons are even more common – and may surprise you.  They have to do with fear, burden, and value.

Today, let’s talk about fear – specifically, the Fear of Failure.

Fear of Failure may be the biggest reason new automation projects don’t move forward.

Whenever we’re faced with a decision, there is always the uncertainty of whether the course we take will achieve the intended goals.

Working in the IT automation business over the past 40+ years, there are two things I’ve come to understand in these types of decisions.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

If there is one constant across all projects, it is that challenges will be introduced.  Ask any project manager – there is no such thing as a perfect project.  They don’t exist.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.  Elements of your environment/processes/security/etc. may come to light – or can even change – during the project.  It’ll happen.  You could do an incredibly thorough requirements definition, but the world isn’t going to stand still in the process.

The key is to address these as soon as they arise.  This may mean changing the approach and direction of the solution – and possibly the scope of the solution itself.

But there’s no need to fear a project’s unknowns.  New challenges don’t equate to failure.  Sometimes, these surprises can take your automation efforts on a better path than you originally envisioned.

Communication can make or break your success.

The key is to clearly communicate the goals and purpose for the automation at the beginning of the effort and throughout its progression – including the challenges found along the way.

And I don’t mean just sending status reports out.  I can’t count the number of times that an issue on an automation project stemmed from communication problems.

Think about the last time there was an issue with something (a project, a solution, whatever):

  • Was there a misunderstanding between the people involved?
  • Did different teams have different visions of what the goal actually was?
  • Did everyone understand not only their role – but also how it fit into the larger picture?
  • Was there any kind of input solicited from recipients of information – or confirmation that they understood?

Remember – communication is bi-directional.

Clear, consistent, confirmed communication will ensure the best success of your automation solution efforts – and minimize your risk moving forward with the project.


Has Fear of Failure held you back on a decision?  What do you do to mitigate concerns & move forward?