Automation and the break even.

It had been a cold night and morning was still covering the grass. The sun was rising on the horizon. I was sipping my morning coffee on my terrace and listening to the birds singing in the forest nearby.

A distant buzzing noise penetrated the quiet Saturday morning. I recognized the sound since I had listened to the same noise multiple times before. It was the neighbor’s new Robomow taking care of the lawn.

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

This time something wasn’t right, though. Despite its best efforts to get free, the masterpiece of gardening technology was caught stuck in the roots of an apple tree.

The neighbor had left for work, so I kindly loosened the robot and continued with the coffee.

But what if that lawn represented our product. The automation kept covering it in peace. Everything was just fine until the unexpected happened.

Automation requires human attention to break free of the apple tree.

A typical misconception still is that automation can replace a human, this is the basis of a belief that automation then would mean cheaper testing.

I bought my Robomow just recently. I can tell you it took quite some time to set up the perimeter wire that keeps the robot in my lawn. And to teach it the areas it should handle. And still, it routinely gets stuck on one steep slope and another set of young bushes at the back of my yard. I go out and free it every morning.

There was a significant price to buying the robot of course. And the cost grew by the overhead to get it working, and the robot needs maintenance too. But I just love playing around with tech anyways. So it was a good investment. And the lawn looks fantastic!

Now some months later it seems that the investment has started to save some time too. Automation sets my hands free of the repetitive and boring stuff, to pursue higher goals. But it wasn’t evident in the beginning.

I’m not sure how many summers it will take for my household to break even with this investment, but I believe it will be close to 4 years.

In case you plan to invest in automation in your project. I’d urge you to remember this.

The price is never the cost.

The price is a tag, the money you pay today. The cost will add up over time.

So, when you plan automation, know your costs and design how you will break even.

If you don’t plan the ROI, who would do it for you?

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