PowerShell will not fix all of your problems

I’m definitely guilty of using PowerShell in situations where it’s not the best answer. Some of that is curiosity (can I make it work) and some of it is stubbornness (I bet I can make it work). But I never want to give the impression that PowerShell is “fixing” my problems.

For instance, if you don’t have defined processes or clear requirements, trying to apply automation is going to end up an exercise in frustration. You’ll be asking “why did it do that?” when the answer is clearly that the script is written to do things that way.

So if you’re in over your head and know that you need automation to give you some leverage to get out of your bad situation, the first step is almost never to throw PowerShell into the mix. The first step should always be to make sure that you have a well-defined process. If that means that you continue manually for a bit so you can get everyone on-board with the process that’s fine. Once the process is defined, scripting it with PowerShell (or whatever is your automation tool of choice) will be much easier and the results more predictable.

Will PowerShell solve all of your problems? No.

Can PowerShell automate the solutions to problems that you have a process to handle? Definitely.

Perhaps you’re so busy you can’t get a handle on things enough to specify a full solution. That definitely happens and I don’t want to give the impression that you have to have 100% of things under control to apply automation to the mix. What you can do, though, is find a small subset of the problems you’re dealing with that are simple. Maybe that’s only 10% of your work and it doesn’t seem like it would be worth automating. If you automated that 10%, though, you’d get almost an hour each day back to enable you to focus on the things that are really eating up your time. And since the 10% is “simple”, it shouldn’t be difficult to automate, at least compared to the rest of your work.

Something else that I’ve found is that once you have automated the simple cases, more and more things begin to fall into that classification. Once you’ve got a solution that’s proven, it’s easy to build on that to start pulling in some of the more complex tasks. Pretty soon you will find that you some free time on your hands.

The point is that you can use automation to gain traction when it doesn’t seem like you’re making any headway. Once you get traction, you can accomplish a lot on your own. With PowerShell, you can accomplish a lot in a repeatable way, accurately, and in many cases without human intervention.

What do you think?