IT Process Automation – Which processes should you automate?

IT Process Automation

When discussing IT Process Automation (a.k.a Runbook Automation), one of the first questions (even before tools) is – which processes should you automate?

Operational or Business Processes?

There’s a popular distinction between business processes and operational, or data center processes. A business process may be, for example, change management, escalation, notification, etc. Operational/data center processes have stronger focus around IT operational systems and procedures – for example, backup & recovery, access management, etc.

The line between these two types of processes is not clear cut, and in many cases a process may be both operational and business oriented. For example, see the results from Information Week’s IT Process Automation report. It seems that survey respondents are focused mostly on operational and data center processes (31%) or on a combination of both operational and business processes (42%).  There is much less automation of business and customer processes (24%).

Top Areas for IT process automation

It’s always interesting to see what others are automating – even though you have your own priorities and unique needs. The same Information Week survey asked how critical was it to automate specific process areas?  According to the survey, “leading the pack were mostly hard core operations processes”:

  • Backup and restoration
  • Disaster recovery
  • Service fulfillment
  • Incident management
  • Data movement

This seems natural, as most of these (except for disaster recovery) are repetitive tasks that consume many hours from IT teams. In fact, some of these tasks are relatively easy to automate. Take a look at some of our Pinpoint IT process automation templates to find out more. For example, Active Directory password reset, free up disk space, file monitoring, restart Windows service, or monitor event logs for disaster recovery.

The researches, however, identified the following 5 “key win areas” for automation, which provide more value. (We added links from each of these areas to a specific customer case study in order to illustrate types of issues that can be automated):

Service Desk

So which processes should I automate?

Now that you know a bit what others think should be automated, we’re back to our initial question – which processes should you automate?

As a first step, start with mapping your current processes and their key operational metrics for each of the service and business applications.

Once you create such a list, try to prioritize them based on the following two questions:
  • Time. What are the quantifiable benefits from automating each process? Consider how many hours are currently spent on the manual process – both by IT employees, as well by management for each such process.
  • Effort to automate. What would be the required effort to implement automation, as well as maintain the automated process? Obviously, this question is more difficult to answer, since it requires a familiarity with one or more tools, and depends as well on the skills of your team. More about this in my next post.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

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