The Automation vs Delegation Dilemma: How to Choose the Best Approach for Your Company

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Have you ever been afraid to turn on your PC just knowing that you’re going to be punched in the face by your to-do list?  You’re not alone! The number one complaint I get from clients is that they just don’t have enough hours in the day to get to everything on their to-do list.  it’s 2023 ladies! and ain’t nobody punching baby in the face!!! Am I right? 

So how do we turn the tables on that nasty to-do list? Simple, we ask ourselves the following question, “do we automate or delegate?”

Definitions

Before we dive into which is better, automation or delegation, let’s first define what automation and delegation are.

Automation refers to the use of technology to perform a task without human intervention. Some common tasks that can be automated include sending emails, scheduling appointments, and posting on social media.

Delegation on the other hand means assigning a task to someone else such as a Virtual Assistant to handle. Delegation can be used for tasks such as answering customer inquiries, scheduling meetings, or managing a team.

Both options have benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits and drawbacks of automation

Automation can be a useful tool for us solopreneurs, especially those of us who are not ready or able to work with other people,  it can definitely help to streamline processes and improve efficiency. There are clear advantages to automating but there are also drawbacks.

I want to start the new year off on a positive note so let’s quickly run through a few of the benefits of automation and then if I can find my honesty hat we’ll cover the drawbacks, yes Ladies the “automation queen” is finally going to admit that automation is not perfect. So let’s get into it!

  1. Increased productivity: Automation can work faster and more efficiently than humans, which can lead to increased output and productivity.
  2. Improved accuracy and consistency: Automation can reduce the risk of errors and ensure that tasks are completed consistently.
  3. Cost savings: Automation can reduce labor costs, as well as other expenses such as training and benefits.
  4. Reduced need for human labor: Automation can take over tasks that are hazardous, repetitive, or undesirable for humans to perform.

Ok, now that we’re done with the benefits let’s talk about the benefits again, just kidding! I told you I needed that honesty hat.  So I couldn’t find the hat ( that’s a lie ) truth be told “automation drawbacks” is not a color that goes with my blue eyes but I’ll be as objective as humanly possible in this drawbacks list.

  1. Job loss: Automation can replace human labor, leading to job loss and unemployment.
  2. Upfront investment: Automating a process can be expensive, as it may require the purchase of new technology or equipment.
  3. Technological failures: Automated systems can malfunction or break down, leading to disruptions in the workflow and potentially costly repairs.
  4. Lack of flexibility: Automated systems may not be able to adapt to changes as easily as humans, which can limit their usefulness in dynamic environments.

Benefits and drawbacks of delegation

Some of us really kick ass when it comes to delegating tasks but some of us, myself included find it difficult to delegate. That being said, delegation can be an effective way to manage time, develop team members, and ensure that work is completed efficiently. Some potential benefits of delegation include:

  1. Improved time management: By delegating tasks, you can free up time to focus on more important tasks or activities.
  2. Increased efficiency: When tasks are delegated to individuals who have the necessary skills and expertise, work is likely to be completed more quickly and effectively.
  3. Enhanced team development: Delegating tasks can provide opportunities for team members to develop new skills and take on more responsibility, which can help to build their confidence and improve their performance.
  4. Improved team morale: When team members feel trusted and valued, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.

There are also potential drawbacks to delegation that should be considered:

  1. Loss of control: When you delegate tasks, you give up some control over how they are completed. This can be difficult for some people who are used to being in control of all aspects of their work.
  2. Miscommunication: Delegating tasks requires clear communication to ensure that team members understand their responsibilities and how to complete them. Miscommunication can lead to confusion and mistakes.
  3. Increased workload for the delegator: In some cases, delegating tasks may require more time and effort upfront as the delegator needs to provide clear instructions and guidance to the person taking on the task.
  4. Dependency on others: If tasks are delegated to others, the delegator becomes dependent on those individuals to complete the work. This can be risky if team members do not have the necessary skills or experience, or if they are unable to complete the tasks for any reason.
  5. Investment in a team member: Just as automation is an investment in software, delegation will require an investment in a person or a team.

So the big question here is, when is it best to delegate and when is it best to automate? Let’s find out…

Determining when to use automation versus delegation

This is often something that my clients and I work through when we first start working together. As a systems and automation expert who helps solopreneur service providers and coaches scale their businesses with custom automated backend systems you would think that I automate all the things but in some situations delegation is far better than automation. Here are the 4 questions I ask every client to determine whether we should automate or delegate a task:

  1. When the task is routine and does not require human judgment or decision-making. Automation can handle these types of tasks more efficiently and accurately than humans, who may become bored or make mistakes when performing repetitive tasks.
  2. When the task requires a high degree of accuracy. Automation can perform tasks with a level of accuracy that is difficult or impossible for humans to achieve, making it ideal for tasks such as data entry or quality control.
  3. When the task needs to be completed quickly. Automation can work at a faster pace than humans, making it ideal for tasks that need to be completed in a short time frame.
  4. When the task requires constant availability. Automation can work 24/7 without needing breaks or time off, making it ideal for tasks that need to be performed around the clock.

Here are some examples of situations where delegation would be the best choice:

  1. When the task requires creativity or decision-making, these kinds of tasks are better handed over to human workers allowing them to use their judgment and problem-solving skills.
  2. When the task requires complex communication: Delegating tasks that require complex communication to a human worker allows for more personalized and effective interactions.
  3. When the task requires physical dexterity: Delegating these tasks to human workers allows them to use their physical abilities to complete the task.
  4. When the task requires emotional intelligence: Delegating tasks that require these skills to human workers allows for more human-like interactions and a better customer experience.
  5. When the task requires a personal touch: Some tasks simply require a personal touch that cannot be replicated by automation. Delegating these tasks to a human worker allows for a more personalized experience that can be appreciated by customers or clients.

What we usually find is that there is a mix of automation and delegation. Here are some best practices when it comes to implementing a mix of both.

  1. Clearly define the tasks and responsibilities that can be automated and those that require human intervention.
  2. Use automation to handle routine and repetitive tasks, freeing up human resources for more complex and value-added activities.
  3. Regularly review the tasks being automated to ensure they are still relevant and add value.
  4. Ensure that the automation is reliable and trustworthy.
  5. Communicate the use of automation to employees and provide them with the necessary training and support.
  6. Delegate tasks to team members who have the necessary skills and experience to complete them effectively.
  7. Set clear expectations and provide ongoing support to those who have been delegated tasks.
  8. Regularly review the tasks being delegated to ensure that they are being completed effectively and efficiently.
  9. Use tools and technologies to facilitate collaboration and communication within the team.
  10. Foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement to ensure that both automation and delegation are being used effectively.

And done! This article was definitely a marathon but If this brings up more questions than answers, you’re in the right place, book a free clarity call and let’s talk about how we can save you time and money with simple systems to grow and scale your solopreneur business.

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