IT Process Automation: Moving from Basics to more Advanced and Creative Processes

IT process automation studioWe’ve talked about the importance of starting small with IT process automation, tackling one or two basic repetitive tasks and then building from there. While many businesses are safe taking this route, for others, basic IT process automation is merely a tiny stepping stone that must give way to more complex IT automation strategies. This is especially critical given the increasing challenges IT personnel are facing with big data and mobility becoming more prominent. With that said, let’s take a look at the differences between basic automation, advanced techniques and the more creative, think-outside-the-box strategies.

Basic IT Process Automation Examples

Basic IT automation refers to out-of-the-box solutions that are easy to learn and seamless to implement. Some examples of basic IT automation include:

  • Routine maintenance tasks – Perhaps the easiest and most frequently automated tasks are those that need to be performed on a regular basis but do not require a great deal of input from live personnel. These routine tasks, such as disk cleanups, browser cleanups and even password resets, take up a tremendous amount of time when done manually, so they are ideal for beginner IT automation.
  • Third party application management – Keeping third party applications, such as Adobe or Firefox, up to date and running smoothly is a timely task for IT. With some basic configuration,IT automation can be used to deploy and update these apps as needed.
  • Patch management – IT Automation allows IT to “set and forget” patch approval and reboots for multiple workstations and servers.
  • System Auditing – Stay on top of important every-day alerts, such as low memory, without having to do so manually. Automation tracks and manages incoming alerts, setting into action the necessary workflows to correct problems before they occur.
Advanced IT Process Automation Examples

As IT becomes more comfortable with automation, and the need for more advanced strategies becomes more evident, a robust software product can facilitate any of the following complex workflows:

  • Service desk and incident management – Automated workflows can be developed and deployed to handle the entire alert management process, end to end. Additionally, critical diagnostic information can be gathered and reported so that if and when human intervention is required, the data needed to correct the issue quickly and effectively will be on hand.
  • Monitoring and reporting – Utilize policy-based automation to filter server type and location, and then develop a specific policy that involves continuous system monitoring and enhanced reporting.
  • Self-service for end-users – Empower the end user to manage basic issues that may arise using a self-service end-user portal. To make this process more efficient, creating “how-to” content and provide self-help procedures for users to follow.
  • Automatic application management – Establish a policy to detect any non-compliance for all applications that are on auto startup. Those applications which are flagged as non-compliant can then be automatically removed, if desired, to reduce future security issues and improve performance.
Getting Creative with IT Process Automation

Of course, all of the above scenarios are pretty common and are regularly automated by businesses across the globe. With the right tools and a think-outside-the-box attitude, however, there is almost no limit to what can be accomplished through automation. A few examples of creative automation include:

  • Mail server management – Proactively automate the monitoring of your exchange server and Quality of Service (QoS) by running routine tests to verify that the server is able to send and receive email.
  • Clean up and reduce help desk tickets – Excess “bloatware” bogging your IT group down? IT process automation can help by using an approved configuration to automatically detect deviations and clean up the excess on your behalf.
  • Recovery of stolen mobile devices – You may think it’s hopeless finding that stolen laptop, but maybe not – that is, if you have the right automation tools in place. Leveraging Google location APIs, you can pinpoint the geo location of your equipment. Automating screenshot captures can further bolster your evidence.

Regardless of how you choose to leverage IT Process Automation, there’s no question that with the boom of cloud, mobile and big data looming on the horizon, it’s something that will become a necessary component of business success. Feel free to start small, but don’t limit yourself. Expanding to advanced automation strategies and then dabbling with more creative uses will help you to steamroll head-on into the bright and promising future.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

5 Ways Not to Spend $1M on IT Automation Projects

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend millions to manage IT automation projects. Tools and solutions exist for any budget.

Don’t spend millions to manage IT automation projectsIt’s been a long-held belief in the business world that IT automation projects are costly endeavors. The good news is they don’t have to be. In fact, with the right solution in place, you can easily streamline your IT operations to actually save your business money in the long run. Here are 5 ways that you can develop, implement and deploy IT automation projects for your organization in a way that is cost effective and efficient.

Choose the right tool for your needs. You may think this is easier said than done, but it’s not. The key is to apply the 80/20 rule – that is, beware of IT automation tools that you may only use 20% of the time, but that require 80% of your time to make them work. Instead, select an IT automation tool that allows you to focus on the specific pain points of your particular business, gain quick wins, and manage projects of any size. Finally, make sure the tool is scalable to be able grow as your business needs change.

Take a modular solution approach. Another cost effective way to manage IT automation for your organization is to break each project into individual modules, and then implement each of those modules as needed. This also makes the project more manageable and easier to monitor.

Use an IT Process Automation that is easy to use and simple to operate. Tools that are complex and difficult to learn and adapt to mean an added expense for your business, both in terms of the time of deployment and the training it will take to bring staff up to speed with the new process. When evaluating IT process automation tools, make sure that you select one that will be easy to implement and simple enough for everyone on your team to learn and use.

Select a tool that offers pre-packaged workflow templates, integration packs and out-of-the-box functionality.Again, when it comes to running a successful business, time is money. If your IT personnel has to spend hours, days and weeks writing tedious scripts, then you’re losing money. IT automation should be about saving time and improving efficiency. When you can leverage already designed workflows and other standard pre-packaged features, you’ll be able to achieve this goal more effectively.

Prepare your team. The last step for managing an affordable IT automation project is to implement adequate training to your team and bringing the right people on board to manage the project effectively. Determine what skills are needed to get the job done correctly and in the most efficient manner possible, and then set about lining up the right people to handle the job.

It’s time we dispel the myth that IT automation has to be a huge expense, making it out of the reach of small to mid-size businesses. To the contrary, when you approach your IT automation projects from the right direction, with knowledge of what to look for in an ITPA tool, and you adequately plan and prepare the right personnel for the job, it can easily be managed within just about any budget. The end result, a savings across your entire organization, will be well worth it in the end.

Want to make your IT automation project a success without breaking the bank?

IT Process Automation Survival Guide