How to Increase Automation Effectiveness Using a Dynamic Workflow Framework

Author: Guy Nadivi

A few months ago in October of 2020, Ayehu held its first annual Intelligent Automation Hackathon. This inaugural event focused on work from home solutions, with an emphasis on developing workflows and activities to make working from home easier, more streamlined, and more efficient.

One of the finalists from the Hackathon was Amar Alwani of Cognizant, who came up with a truly unique approach to automating the resolution of infrequent incidents. It was so unique, in fact, that we want to do a deeper dive and showcase it here. We think you’re going to find it very interesting.

Automation is great for taking care of the most common and frequently arising use cases. You see our top 10 most popular ones below. We maintain this list on our website and update it from time to time.

But what about the infrequent use cases? The exceptions?

Enter Amar Alwani, Cognizant’s Senior Manager of Cloud Operations and Automation. He submitted an entry to our first annual hackathon last year which addressed these infrequent use cases with a very novel and elegant solution. He calls it the “Dynamic Workflow Framework” (DWF), which Cognizant uses to automate all sorts of IT Processes, without the need for developing unique workflows for each one.

The 1st step in DWF is doing a service desk ticket assessment, by taking the last 3-6 months of tickets and evaluating volumes, workloads, etc. Tickets are then categorized by issue type.

The 2nd step is to then identify the top 20-25 issues driving the highest ticket volumes.

After that, the 3rd step is performing an automation feasibility analysis across those top 20-25 use cases, which includes an ROI assessment for each one.

Finally, work begins to develop workflows which automate the top ticket volume issues. It’s not unusual for these top 20-25 use cases accounting for 40% or more of all ticket volume!

The next step is looking at everything else, and determining what issues account for the remaining ~60% of ticket volume. In the accompanying graph below, we see that this particular organization has a multitude of infrequent issues generating 4 – 10 incidents per month. In actuality, there were roughly 2,000 unique IT processes they could automate, but we’re just showing a sampling of them here. Automating each one would result in saving less than 2 hours of effort. Yet if you could somehow easily automate all of them, the savings would be extraordinary.

After extensive analysis, Amar realized that the key to making automation of these infrequent incidents economically feasible, was a bit counterintuitive. Rather than building a unique process-specific workflow for each issue, he decided to stop creating static workflows altogether. Instead, Amar introduced the concept of reusable workflow components that could be easily strung together with a simple data input interface.

Here is where the heart of the Dynamic Workflow Framework comes into play for automating multiple IT processes/issues. The Framework consists of:

  • A suite of packaged workflows bundled together to do any sub-process in IT
  • The principle of “Argumentized Runbook Automation” whereby you just supply your SoPs as arguments to the Framework
  • Creation and loading of workflows at runtime (in memory)
  • Simplified SoP creation using Excel .csv templates
  • Rule-based navigation and actions
  • And truly codeless automation

So how does DWF work?

Rather than configuring a specific workflow against each issue type or each IT process, the Policy Action settings in Ayehu NG are configured to call the same workflow for every single ticket issue type.

The Dynamic Workflow Framework’s architecture consists of a collection of packaged workflows that can automate most IT Processes with two types of workflows:

  • Master workflows
  • Baby workflows

This architecture results in a number of breakthrough benefits for automating infrequent use cases:

  • Workflows can be created at the time of issue resolution
  • Non-developers are empowered to automate anything and everything by filling out simple Excel templates via a user-friendly interface
  • Automation rollout timelines are reduced as much as 70%

To see the Dynamic Workflow Framework in action, check out this video: https://youtu.be/asAXwGoq2Q8?t=1517

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how easily you can scale up your organization’s incident remediation with intelligent automation, please visit our website and download your very own free 30-day trial version today by clicking here.

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