We’ve certainly come a long way since the antiquated automation tools introduced at the turn of the century. Huge, clumsy and less than perfect, those old tools were enough to get the job done, but thankfully have been vastly improved over the years. Now, IT automation offers sophisticated solutions in easy-to-use, out-of-the-box products that are affordable and scalable to suit just about any industry and business need. Yet, there is still work to be done if we are to truly get the most out of IT process automation in its current form – particularly if you are in the highly competitive field of Managed Service Providers (MSPs). Here are 4 key steps to manage your IT services efficiently and cost effectively.
- Stay Proactive – Of course you know what to do in the event that one of your clients’ infrastructure is compromised, but wouldn’t it make more sense to stay one step ahead of the game? That way, instead of having to waste time, resources and money putting out fires, you could resolve issues before they developed into serious problems. Let’s take the task of patch management into consideration. If you’re handling this manually, vulnerabilities in the days following a new release could be placing your clients at risk and making your job much more complicated than it has to be. IT process automation, on the other hand, allows you to take a proactive approach to patch releases, speeding the process and reducing risk.
- Develop and Implement Standards – By developing a check list of technology standards that can be applied across multiple devices and clients, you can remove much of the guess work from the trouble-shooting process. This will improve customer service levels and streamline your own internal operations. For instance, you can create a list of back-up and anti-virus processes, recommended amounts of memory, standard applications and configurations, etc. You can then automate the process of auditing these standards accordingly.
- Manage Policies – In addition to common standards, there are also a number of policies that must be managed properly, particularly in terms of IT usage governance. It’s critical to ensure that all users remain in compliance with the policies of your customers. Common policy areas include password refresh, application usage, allowable downloads and access security. By setting up a policy management plan that is proactive and automated, you can prevent unwanted actions and reduce the number of tickets you and your team will have to field.
- Review Regularly – While implementing the three steps listed above will dramatically improve productivity and performance, you’ll never get your incoming trouble tickets down to zero (nor should you want to). By reviewing your existing tickets regularly, however, you can effectively identify other areas where automation could help. What pain points are regularly causing you problems that you might be able to streamline for better results? You may also find through routine reviews that adjusting your standards and policy management in certain ways could further reduce the excess workload that your team is currently carrying.
As any MSP, you’re probably struggling with the need to do more with less. As IT issues become more and more complex, the ability to stay on top of the needs of your clients without having to increase expenditure will be critical to your future success. IT process automation, along with these 4 key steps, can help position you right where you need to be to stay out on top.