How to Bring IT Process Automation from Elementary to Exceptional

How to Bring IT Process Automation from Elementary to ExceptionalHave you already mastered IT process automation? Do you feel like, while automation has definitely made a difference in how your organization operates, there’s so much more that you’re not yet taking advantage of? If you’ve already automated most of all of the routine, manual tasks that once plagued your highly skilled IT workers, it’s time to bring your automation project to the next level. Here’s how you can do just that in just 6 simple steps.

Identify and assess current resources, processes and maturity levels.

Before you can embark on a more advanced IT process automation implementation you have to first identify your existing strengths and weaknesses. Does your current staff possess the skillset and bandwidth to be able to handle additional automation projects or will you need to seek external resources on an either temporary or permanent basis?

You’ll also need to pinpoint what specific processes and workflows you wish to envelope into the ITPA fold so that you can adequately plan accordingly.

Establish a dedicated team.

While the proposed automation projects will eventually impact not just everyone in the IT department, but also likely the entire organization, it will start with a dedicated team of experts who are handpicked and appointed to facilitate the initial project.

Begin by appointing an automation leader and then identify other key players who will contribute to the team. Obtaining support and buy-in from all directions, including executive management and front-line employees should also be a goal as ongoing cross-team and interdepartmental collaboration will be required in order for the project to be a success.

Achieve standardization wherever possible.

Successfully implementing a complex IT process automation initiative requires an environment in which there is a high degree of standardization. This is particularly important in IT infrastructures that are diverse, as the more intricate design will demand additional checks and balances to ensure that every step is executed properly and completed successfully.

Setting and maintaining standards in terms of devices and software configurations, as well as policies, documentation, approvals, etc. will facilitate smoother processes, fewer errors and a faster, more efficient processes overall. This will also reduce risk and lower costs.

Manage scope by keeping objectives focused and expectations set.

The key to a successful advanced ITPA rollout is establishing clear objectives while managing expectations. The goal is to use specific and measurable metrics to avoid the potential delays and other problems that arise when the scope is changed – that is, process steps are added, changed or removed or the overall objectives begin to evolve.

Specific and documented deliverables should be defined and agreed upon in advance and objectives should include such things as reduction in cost and workload, reduction in human dependency, enhanced/improved process integration, and overall improvement in operational efficiencies. Avoid setting unclear or overly ambitious goals or expectations that are unrealistic.

Control costs and identify quantifiable results.

Be careful not to underestimate the amount of investment that will be required in order to successfully achieve the goals of adopting advanced IT process automation. Remember that this investment will extend far beyond the simple purchase of an automation tool, especially given the increased complexity of an advanced initiative. There is also a cost associated with designing, planning and implementing the process, as well as maintaining it over time.

To account for this, all costs should be identified upfront and measured closely on an ongoing basis. To keep these costs as low as possible, the automation team should ensure that any and all basic tasks are automated first, standardize systems and processes wherever possible, carefully manage the expenses associated with implementation and proactively guard against scope changes.

Communicate value to key stakeholders.

Finally, to maintain the ongoing support of the IT process automation initiative (and any future ones), the actual ROI must be calculated and regularly communicated to the powers-that-be. This can be somewhat challenging, as much of the value of ITPA comes in the form of greater reliability, faster response times and enhanced efficiency levels – all of which can be difficult to quantify. Over time, however, the actual monetary ROI of automation can and will be measurable and reportable.

Some of the critical metrics used to measure and quantify ROI include:

  • Time to complete the task or process manually
  • Cost of labor required to complete the task or process manually
  • Costly problems associated with manual tasks or processes (such as human error or system/business downtime)
  • Costs in time and resources for ancillary activities associated with manual tasks or processes (i.e. documentation for audit compliance)

Gaining a better understanding of all the costs associated with manual workflow will allow you to specifically calculate the savings achieved through automation, which will help support ongoing and future ITPA initiatives.

Without question, adopting a more advanced degree of IT Process automation can and will help bring your organization to an entirely new level, but getting there can seem nothing short of overwhelming. By following the six steps above, you’ll be able to adequately plan, implement and achieve all of your team’s automation goals on time, on budget and without issue.

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IT Process Automation Survival Guide

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