I work for a small-ish company (~15 employees).
I've managed to automate myself out of 80% of my job, starting in 3-4 months. I would really like to stay with my company, but my best analysis suggests that there simply won't be (enough of) a need for me. If our growth rate continues, that 20% will probably become 100% in a couple of years, but for the time being there just isn't enough of it.
How do I approach my boss to discuss this and, assuming my analysis is correct, what options can I suggest that would enable me to continue having a professional relationship going forward?
Update from a week later:
I talked to my boss. The conversation went something like this (condensed and paraphrased):
Me: "I'm concerned that when [project] is finished in 3 months time, 80% of my workload is going to disappear and I can't see anything obvious to replace it. Can we have a discussion about that now, in advance, so I know where I stand."
My Boss: "I wouldn't worry about it. I'm pretty certain we can find other projects for you. Just off the top of my head, there's [x, y, z] which I've always wanted to implement, and there's probably additional training we can arrange for you or you can investigate for yourself.
If it ever comes to a point where we can't gainfully employ you, then we can have that conversation. But in the meantime, keep doing what you're doing."
Thanks everyone, you helped a lot.
Oh my lord does this look naive with the benefit of hindsight.
I mean, yes, I did automate away most of my old job. But this simply opened up new projects, responsibilities & opportunities. 6 months later, I'm busier than ever.
Nowadays, I look back on this and laugh with wry amusement.
The automation did, indeed, turn out to need a lot of ongoing development, extension and maintenance. And with my workload suitably reduced, when one of our senior employees left, the operational half of their job was given to me to take over, learn, and automate in similar fashion.
14 months on I've been promoted twice, have far broader responsibilities, and a Junior employee working under me because my time is now too valuable and in-demand to be spent on the tricky-to-automate manual tasks that are still lying around.
Lots of serendipity involved there, but it certainly wouldn't have happened if I were still doing the manual work I used to be doing.
These days the company is a multiple of the size it used to be. I run our Automation, Data, Analytics & Modelling, the IT/Data operations for our corporate acquisitions, and a strategic development partnership with a giant multinational, on a direct path to CTO (just as soon as we get around to creating that position). With equity.
I keep automating and delegating my work away. Every time I do my role, projects, and responsibilities expand to take advantage of my new capacity. Thanks to my track record I have broad discretion to pursue whichever opportunities I think will create value for the company.
I never could have imagined this 3 years ago so thank you to everyone who encouraged me to embrace the opportunity.
So, these updates are actually kinda tricky now. I can't talk about just how well things are going as that's confidential. Suffice to say I'm still here, and they're going extremely well.
5 years, the thrilling conclusion
Today is my last day with the company. We spent most of the past year selling it to a multinational. I decided now would be a good opportunity to strike out on my own, take everything I’ve done for my company and become a consultant to the other 5,000 firms in my industry who desperately need it.
So they bought me out, and thus ends the updates.
To everyone who finds themselves in my original situation:
I hope this series gives you perspective and inspiration, and the confidence to go and find out what the future has in store.