Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

May 22, 2021

The Programmer Move: Automating everything has a logic behind it

Filed under: Humor,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:48 PM

In the past few weeks I have seen this joke multiple times where they talk about programmers automating something in 10 days that could be done manually in 10 mins. It does seem funny and people love to think that programmers like doing things the hard way. At times this is true but not always. There is a reasoning behind why we spend 10 days automating a 10 min task. When people look at this they don’t consider the frequency of the task i.e. how many times we are doing that 10 min task. Most of the time you will find that the 10 min task was being done fairly frequently and wasting a lot of time.

Programmers move

When I evaluated candidates for automation in one of my previous companies we had a calculation we used to determine if a process was a candidate for automation. We looked at the time required to complete, complexity of the task (ease of automation), the frequency at which it was done (hourly/daily/weekly/yearly) and the resources freed if automated. Then we looked at how long it would take to automate the process. Looking at the two values we would take the call to automate or not depending on the return of investment from the automation. So, if we had something that was only 10 minutes but done daily then spending the 10 days to automate would probably make sense. On the other hand if the task was a one-off or done yearly then it wouldn’t be a candidate for automation.

Programmers love to automate things. I have automated most of the tasks that I do frequently for system maintainance etc. However not every task needs to be automated and assuming that programmers are doing it just for the heck of it is a disservice. But it is funny. Take a look at a Rube Goldberg machine if you want to see this taken to the extreme, where everything is automated in a manner as complicated as possible.

Rube Goldberg machine: Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin

– Suramya

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