The everyday power of automation

December 28, 2016 by Chris Dykstra

A financial planner sitting at a computer that he is using for automation

About the author:

Chris Dykstra

Software developer II

Chris graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a minor in mathematics. Through his time at Advicent, he has developed a passion for educating and improving those around him by sharing his insights and experiences.

Computers excel at completing repetitive and routine tasks. They can be much more accurate than a human and are typically much faster too. Automation, in the context of this article, refers to allowing a computer to complete a job rather than a human being. Human minds are often not very good at doing the same task over and over without losing accuracy or efficiency — or both.

Human minds are good at learning, special cases, innovation; a human mind has the ability to be creative. They are good at the things at which computers are not. Due to this complimentary relationship, humans and computers tend to make an excellent team, better than either alone.

Is relying on a computer to do these menial tasks harmful to us? It does give less exercise to the parts of the brain dedicated to doing those tasks; children who grow up only ever using a calculator are very likely to struggle with mental math. The brain needs exercise to be good at any given type of task.

2 simple ways to boost productivity with automation

Relying on a machine to do the things it is good at does, however, free up a very hot commodity: brain space. By not having to expend energy or focus on menial tasks (the ones being delegated to the machine) more effort can be dedicated to higher level thinking — not to mention the time saved. All that saved energy, time, and brain power can be reallocated to more meaningful tasks.

What this means is that more clients can be onboarded and given meaningful levels of attention, or the same number of clients can make use of your services but will be given a much higher level of care and attention. You will be able to pick up the higher-paying customers that have complex portfolios or higher levels of wealth.

Here are two things you can do when picking a tool to boost your productivity:

1. Make sure you can trust your choice.

We are all familiar with bugs in software. The same reason that computers are so good at repeating the same task is that they produce the same results (under the same conditions) every time. This means that if the machine makes a mistake it will make the same mistake every time.

Furthermore, if a person finds they do not trust the tool to produce the expected results, more time will be spent double checking the machine’s work. Once your chosen software has proven its accuracy, let it do its job — keeping in mind any known bugs or shortcomings.

2. Ensure you are picking the proper tool for the job.

A tool that works but has less features is a better tool than one with broken features. I would choose a sturdy handsaw over a broken electric saw any day because I am likely to get hurt using a broken tool. If a tool does not have the feature for which you are looking, it will not accomplish the job effectively.

If it has too many features, it will likely do more than you need, become confusing, or provide results that are difficult to decipher. Beware of flashy products; they may look like they are cutting edge (and very well may be in some ways), but they are useless if they do not accurately complete the tasks for which you are buying them. If you are using a tool that has a bunch of fancy features but cannot accurately complete tasks, then it is likely to do more damage to your firm than it is to help you get something done.

Click here to learn how financial planning tools from Advicent can help you save time and automate tasks.