The role of IT manager has evolved once again. Rather than having to handle everything themselves, these skilled leaders are seeking out ways to leverage resources (both human and machine) to do the nitty gritty so they can focus more on planning and strategic business projects. It’s not practical to dole out high salaries for personnel to perform time-consuming, repetitive and menial tasks, such as password resets, patches, system restarts and the like. This is where IT automation comes into play. But what to automate….and when? Believe it or not, this can be quite challenging.
The logical way to approach things might be to inventory the organization’s most common problems, whether it’s bandwidth issues, poor CPU utilization or any other issue that’s resulting in a negative user experience and a waste of valuable resources. But focusing on automation of these tasks may not actually address the underlying problem.
To leverage IT automation to its fullest potential, you should first focus on getting to the root cause of your organization’s issues, not just the overlying outcome. For instance, one common root cause might be capacity. To resolve this issue, you must analyze the biggest drains on bandwidth over a specified time period. From there, you must determine the optimal bandwidth to allocate to each traffic segment. Only when you uncover the true issue at hand can you use automation to truly resolve it.
Some may ask, why not just automate everything? Wouldn’t that help to cover all my bases? This may sound logical, but again, it’s not. If a certain task only occurs a handful of times a year, for example, and the manual effort involved in completing it is minimal, the cost of automating it might simply not be worth it. An adequate cost-value assessment is recommended.
The best approach to implementing IT automation is to prioritize the areas where technology can help reduce significant amounts of manual labor, reduce errors, improve service levels and simplify complex tasks. When these areas can be shifted from human to machine, the cost to do so is well worth it, particularly when you consider the cost of paying senior engineers to perform such tasks on a regular basis.
To simplify this, prioritize your manual tasks and workflows into the following three categories:
- Too Complex – These are complicated, multi-step processes which involve more than one system and subsystem to complete. These are ideal processes for IT automation because of their complexity. Not only will automating save tremendous time and effort, but it also eliminates the risk of human error.
- Too Tedious – These processes aren’t necessarily complex, but they take a long time to complete. For instance, setting up system access for new employees and other onboarding activities. For a larger organization, this task can really begin to bog down the IT department. Rather than having skilled agents wasting valuable time on these manual tasks, automating the entire process makes sense.
- Neither of the Above – If a task or workflow does not fit into either of the above categories, it probably doesn’t need to be automated (at least not yet).
These days, there are many great reasons to consider adopting IT automation. And with the right strategy, the return on your investment can be significant. By focusing on the above approach, you’ll be able to streamline operations, strike the ideal balance between human and machine, and truly get the most out of automation technology.