Today’s consumers have come to expect lightning fast turnaround and self-service options from the brands with which they do business. As a result, companies have had to adapt quickly and implement internal work processes and operational strategies that are directly in line with these changing customer expectations. Only those that successfully do so will remain competitive and continue to be profitable. If you are struggling to become a more efficient enterprise, workload automation might be the ideal solution.
To facilitate successful adoption of workload automation, there are certain key elements that must be determined and accounted for. For instance, the volume of data being processed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, time-frames and SLAs, as well as whatever accuracy challenges your business is currently facing. Producing accurate information in a timely manner requires that the right data is transferred securely and managed accordingly. It also requires a single point of control.
Due to the broad range of packaged and custom applications most companies have in place, attention must also be given to consolidation and integration in order to avoid costly resource conflicts. Management can now leverage workload automation as part of the operations process for virtually any area of the business. For example, forecasting when tasks will be performed and completed and then using automated provisioning to respond to incidents and address resource shortages can help ensure that all SLAs are consistently met (or even exceeded).
Ad hoc business transactions can also be optimized through workload automation. This is typically done through self-service interfaces, which allow the end-user to manage whatever task is needed without requiring any human intervention. This, of course, assumes that there is a seamless connection between IT operations and the rest of the business. It also requires a certain degree of abstraction which allows any user – regardless of technical ability and know-how – to define workflows without the need for complicated scripts.
In today’s fast-paced, technology-based world, job scheduling has undoubtedly evolved from the bare basics to advanced automated solutions. There are three main requirements for this transformation.
First and foremost, you must maintain control of all activities in one centralized location. Because the entire enterprise is run on business process scheduling, and because these processes are all run on the same infrastructure, implementing workload automation can be compared to a juggler keeping all the balls in the air. Someone must ensure that every ball (business process) remains in flight and does not collide (conflict) with the others.
Workload automation must therefore become an enterprise-wide initiative. Systems and applications should remain interconnected to ensure smooth operations across the entire infrastructure. The good news is, most of today’s automation tools have been specifically designed to support existing solutions with the goal of enhancing the benefits of each to maximize efficiency, minimize errors and produce at the highest rate possible. For example, a company that already uses a particular software for help desk ticketing might integrate workload automation to facilitate a more self-service, autonomous business environment.
The next requirement is that tasks and processes be performed efficiently and completed on time to meet proposed SLAs. Regardless of where the processes are scheduled from, the vast majority of them are critical to successfully delivering accurate information, both to employees as well as to customers. Most business leaders are already a step ahead of the game with forecasting, but struggle when it comes to controlling the process and being agile enough to adapt in the event of failure or resource shortage.
Where workload automation comes into play is in the ability it affords to monitor, analyze and manage things like performance, availability and capacity in real-time. Essentially, technology is running around the clock to ensure that any and all scheduled tasks are performed successfully. Should something go wrong, such as a system outage, the appropriate remediation strategy can be triggered, initiated and carried out instantly and without the need for human assistance. This ensures more timely and accurate performance, which greatly improves satisfaction levels, both internally and externally.
Finally, for the benefits of workload automation to be fully realized, self-service options should be adopted in as many areas as are feasible. The end-user should be able to select from a pre-defined catalogue of various options and initiate the execution of the process of their choice on their own. This dramatically reduces the pressure on the IT department and frees up valuable resources while also creating a more efficient, productive working environment. When people can do their jobs better and faster, everyone benefits – from the empowered end-user to the focused IT professional to the customer who is served more quickly and accurately.
Workload automation essentially represents the marriage between IT automation and business process automation. As we move forward and begin to realize even greater advances in technology, organizational leaders would be wise to shift their thinking and planning from tactical to strategic and begin viewing automation as a tool for achieving much more than just better operational efficiency. For now, it’s a pretty good place to start.