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front loading

Front loading is the practice of concentrating effort (costs) early on in a project. This increases the likelihood of exposing problems sooner so that there is more time to resolve them; it also reduces the risk of underestimation of effort impacting on the final delivery date and time to benefit. Ultimately, it makes for greater efficiency.

Front loading is also effectively what automation achieves for a process. Effort that would otherwise be expended in small parts many times over can be concentrated up front, with significant economies of scale. Many process steps can be eliminated with initial investment in thinking, planning and design.

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first hour sharpening the axe (Abraham Lincoln)

The return on investment in automation is a long tail of productivity improvements that should outweigh the up-front effort many times over.