There’s no question that today’s IT administrators are facing growing challenges in the wake of cloud, big data and increased mobility. These professionals are being pressured to produce at a maximum rate while also working with fewer resources and adhering to strict budgetary requirements. As a result, many have begun to embrace IT process automation as a tool to help them stay competitive and, well, remain employed. In fact, automation can help you better manage your busy schedule and free you up to tackle more challenging opportunities.
The issue is, not all ITPA products are created equal. If you’re considering adopting automation into your own operation, here are five key things to help you make the right choice.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. You’re already busy enough, so don’t choose a product that will create more work for you and your team. Instead, look for a solution that already comes with a proven track record. Choose an existing company that is established (preferably one that specializes in IT process automation) and whose product has been successfully implemented by a number of other companies. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and contact them to be sure the product you’re considering will be the right fit for your needs.
Built-In Basics. While the more complex capabilities of each solution may be different, the product you choose should at least contain out-of-the-box features that are most common. This includes routine tasks like software deployment, scheduled backups, security updates, service restarts and patches. Regardless of industry or geographical location, things like software, maintenance, security and compliance are factors that every IT manager must consider. Make sure the product you choose has these built-in capabilities ready to go on day one.
Ability to Be Creative. Beyond the basic automation tasks, the next thing to look for is flexibility. Once you’ve implemented the product and have automated the most common tasks, you’ll then want to start focusing on more complex workflows. This will be somewhat subjective, as it will ultimately depend on each IT manager’s specific strategic objectives, but overall the product should be easy to use, capable of interfacing with other programs and allow for a certain level of creativity to really customize it to the unique needs of the business.
Policy-Based Solutions. Every experienced IT administrator is aware of how critical it is to maintain a level of consistency when managing systems and users. The problem is, when these networks are at a global level, it’s simply not possible for IT professionals to be able to manually ensure that every single machine is in compliance with IT policies. IT process automation solutions that are policy-based offer the ideal solution to this dilemma. For optimum results, look for policy-based automation that will allow you to define, manage and enforce your organization’s IT policies across the entire network without the need for human intervention.
An active community helps. Along with solid customer service and product support, choosing a vendor that also has an active community of engaged IT process automation professionals can help make adoption, implementation and long-term maintenance easier. This community could be managed directly on the vendor’s website, or it may exist elsewhere, such as within a social network (like a LinkedIn group). Collaborating with like-minded professionals can not only help you maximize your use of the product, but it can also enhance your career.
Like it or not, IT process automation is becoming a necessity for IT managers who wish to remain successful amidst the present and future changes brought about by cloud, mobility and big data. The key will be choosing the right product. By keeping the five things listed above in mind during the selection process, implementation will go much more smoothly and the results will be more favorable over the long-term.