Many enterprises across the globe are presently experiencing serious problems with their automation. While the purpose behind implementing an automation tool is a positive one, the result for many has been overcrowding and an increase in costly errors. Adopting some best practices and changing the way IT process automation is viewed can go a long way toward creating a more unified and productive infrastructure and pave the way for more enhanced automation products down the road.
IT Process Automation Challenges
Much of the problem lies in the way IT automation tools have been approached. With so many options available to them, individual departments sought solutions for their unique pain points. While these solutions may have helped within each of these departments, the result has been an overall negative one. This essentially created and cemented silos that had little to no inter-departmental communication and collaboration. Dozens or more fragmented “solutions” now exist throughout any given organization, very few of which are being integrated for optimization.
Another significant challenge is the fact that automation is fundamentally designed based on specific workflows. When one step in the process is missed, or a necessary input isn’t received, the desired result is not achieved. This can lead to errors which ultimately require human intervention, thereby defeating the purpose of leveraging automation in the first place.
Automation of the Future Must Be Better
To address these serious challenges that many enterprises are currently facing, or will be in the near future, more sophisticated solutions will be needed. Along with these enhanced IT process automation products, a number of best practices should be developed and implemented, as follows:
- Establish roles within the IT department that are specific to automation. These roles may include naming someone the automation manager, an automation architect or an automation specialist. These individuals will be responsible for identifying the actual need and overseeing the ITPA tool selection process with the “big picture” in mind.
- Identify what tasks, processes and workflows can and should be automated. This typically starts with scripts (PHP, Unix, Windows, Ruby on Rails, etc.). By compiling a list of what scripts are to be automated, it will be much easier to determine which tools would offer a more universal solution. This may also provide insight into which existing tools could be retired.
- Look for IT process automation tools that are mature and offer more robust features as well as versatility to interface with other systems. Less mature products typically only address a small area of concern. This only further promotes the fragmented siloed atmosphere that is holding many organizations back. When it comes time to expand, the cost of doing so with a less-flexible tool will likely be significantly higher than what you’d have spent on a better quality solution in the first place.
- Take the time to evaluate the features of each tool and its ability to integrate seamlessly with other platforms. Making a hasty decision could result in implementing multiple tools that actually compete with one another, rather than complement each other. The goal is to choose a solution that will be able to bridge and connect with other systems.
The reality is, there will likely never be one single overarching automation solution that will provide for all the needs of the organization. In fact, according to resent research, 75% of large enterprises are predicted to have more than four automation tools in operation within their IT management portfolios by the year 2017. This will represent an increase from 20% in 2014. The goal, therefore, will be to identify and implement high-level IT process automation tools that are capable of bridging the existing gaps and creating a more uniform infrastructure.