Even though IT process automation has presented itself as a tremendous benefit for organizations of just about every shape, size and industry, there are still many decision makers that fail to recognize the value this technology can have for their own enterprises. In order to demonstrate how important automation is for the future of business, IT managers must find a way to improve ROI and demonstrate those benefits to the powers that be. Here are 5 tips for getting those ROI numbers to tip in the right direction.
Clearly Define Needs, Benefits and Expectations
Simply put, you cannot focus on improving anything – whether it’s efficiency through automation or the actual ROI it offers – unless everyone understands what to expect. Time should be taken to identify and define the specific needs of the organization, and then specify how automation can solve those problems and meet those needs. Once this information is gathered, you can then more accurately measure all of the specific areas where automation is producing a solid return and how. Factors to measure include effort reduction, mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR), lowered rate of error, compliance and system uptime. Improving each of these things will directly boost ROI.
Understand the Process and Where Automation Fits
The driving purpose behind process automation is to use technology to replicate repetitive, manual tasks. To improve automation ROI, one must dig much deeper than this basic concept to understand the entire process at hand and identify exactly how automation can be integrated for optimum results. Important questions to ask in this analysis include: What factors should trigger an automated process? What must occur before and after the automated process? What variables and inputs will be necessary to achieve the best outcome? Most importantly, how does automation fit with the big picture – the larger business process as a whole? While individual tasks could certainly be automated, automating the entire process may actually produce a greater value for the business.
Recognize the Context and Customize Accordingly
Capturing true ROI involves understanding the specific context in which the automated process in question is running and customizing that process for optimum results. For instance, the automated response to a critical incident, such a systems outage, during peak business hours should be markedly different than the response to a similar outage that occurs in the middle of the night. These contextual considerations should be built into the automation process and they should also be considered whenever measuring results. By customizing the process, the automation can execute different actions based on each scenario, thereby producing enhanced ROI.
Comprehensive Testing Prior to Release
Testing an automated process manually or in a development system can certainly be time consuming, but it’s absolutely critical to achieving optimum ROI. Before an automated process is rolled out into the live environment, it must be adequately measured to ensure that it is producing the desired results consistently and successfully. Once the automated process is released, ongoing testing is still highly recommended, as this helps to ensure that the triggers, inputs, actions and outputs are all running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Routine audits can also help to identify areas that could be improved for even greater benefit.
Ongoing Evaluation and Improvement
IT Automation may feel like a “set it and forget it” solution, but those organizations that reap the greatest rewards from this technology do so by taking a continuous improvement approach. Regular evaluation of how automated process are working and analysis of where they may be expanded to produce even better results is a must if you are looking to improve your ROI. IT professionals should be asking whether additional tasks could be automated, or whether existing automated processes could be integrated with one another or built upon for greater efficiency.
Individually, each of these 5 tips can have an impact on your overall ROI. When combined, however, they can help to improve both short-term goals as well as drive long-term strategies to produce the desired results of reducing human effort, improving operational efficiency, boosting service levels, reducing errors and downtime, remaining compliant and much more. The end product is a consistently favorable return on investment, which can help to win over those who are not yet on board with automation.