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Is Your Organization AIOps-Ready? Here’s How to Get There in 3 Steps

3 steps to get AIOps ready

Digital transformation can be boiled down to three things: simplicity, innovation and intelligence. One of the most effective tools for achieving these things is AIOps. But adopting a new approach in any department can be daunting. Adding in the complexities of IT makes it even more challenging. When it comes to significant initiatives like this, taking it step-by-step can make things much more manageable. Let’s break down three phases that will make your AIOps implementation go much more smoothly.

Step 1: Define your goals.

You can’t expect to hit a target if you don’t have one in front of you. The first step in getting your organization ready to roll with AIOps is to determine exactly what you’d like to accomplish as the end-result. Take some time to identify areas of specific need where AIOps could provide resolution. Some examples of this might be supporting your ITSM team with alert escalation or improving service availability through incident management. You have to define your objectives first before you can develop a strategy for achieving them.

Step 2: Establish parameters for success.

Next, you must determine which parameters you will use to monitor and measure your success. Common AIOps success parameters include things such as mean time to resolution (MTTR), outage prevention, improved productivity and cost reduction as a result of automation. By developing and setting these benchmarks, you’ll be better able to assess your implementation success rate. You’ll also be better prepared to determine when to pivot and change course if necessary.

Step 3: Focus on the data.

Artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it’s being fed. The term “garbage in, garbage out” comes to mind. In order for your AIOps adoption to be successful, you must prioritize the issue of making sure the data you will use is plentiful, accessible, relevant and most importantly, of superior quality. Sourcing this information as early as possible can give your project a jumpstart, save you a massive amount of time and aggravation and improve your chances of reaching your goals without fewer roadblocks along the way.

As you work through these three fundamental steps, one important point to keep in mind is that AIOps is a journey, not a destination. Therefore, it should never be viewed as a one-off project, or a “set it and forget it” initiative. Organizations that have been successful with AIOps recognize that it’s something dynamic and ever-changing. Go into it with the proper mindset and digital transformation will be your reward.

cio guide to operational efficiency

Looking for Quick Wins with Your Automation Project? Focus on These 5 Key Areas.

Without question, intelligent process automation has made a significant and permanent impact on the tech world. This technology has essentially provided IT professionals with the ability finally accomplish what they’ve been challenged with for decades: optimizing performance and maximizing uptime while minimizing costs. Now, routine time-consuming tasks as well as complex workflows can be streamlined and handled almost exclusively without the need for human input. In short, intelligent process automation has changed the face of IT for the better.

Just getting started and eager to see some results? Let’s take a closer look at five specific areas where intelligent process automation can produce the greatest benefit and fastest return, both for your IT department and your enterprise as a whole.

IT Unification – The old way of doing business involved individual silos and separate departments. In the digital age, the most successful organizations are the ones that are able to harness technology to break down these barriers and bridge inter-departmental gaps, effectively promoting collaboration and fostering innovation. Intelligent process automation can provide the tools necessary to achieve this type of universal organization.

IT Infrastructure – In order for a business to function cohesively across all departments, there need to be a set of streamlined and standardized procedures and technologies in place. This includes best practices, virtualization, cloud computing and more. When this type of environment is created, intelligent process automation can then provide the opportunity for your tech team to leverage their expertise and improve skill levels for the maximum benefit of the department and the company in its entirety.

IT Support – Support that is enhanced with intelligent process automation can ensure fast and incident-free roll-out, implementation and adoption of best practices. It can also improve processes, such as migrations, ensure more effective enforcement of compliance requirements and ultimately boost service levels across the board.

IT Operations – With more pressure being placed on IT professionals to not only manage their specified workflows, but also possess an in-depth understanding of overarching business practices, these workers must find a way to become better-equipped to meet these demands. Intelligent automation can help by allowing IT operations the optimal allocation of resources so that personnel can focus on furthering their education and expertise.

General Routine/Repetitive Tasks – Those every day, repetitive manual tasks that your IT department is buried under are inevitably costing your business money. Workflow and self-service automation options can alleviate this concern by taking the burden off the IT team. Not only can this vastly improve efficiency and productivity, but it can also cut costs in the long run.

With demands on IT professionals increasing at a rapid rate, the need for enhanced technological solutions has never been greater. Intelligent process automation can help your organization meet these evolving needs so you can remain competitive and achieve ongoing success, both now and well into the future.

cio guide to operational efficiency

4 Tips to Supercharge Your Business Processes

If you’ve been in business for a decent amount of time, you already know how important it is to have processes in place. In the absence of these processes, operations become chaotic, inefficiency reigns and progress is stymied.

That being said, simply creating and implementing business processes isn’t always enough. In fact, there may be significant room for improvement in a variety of areas. If you haven’t visited your processes in some time or you’re already aware they could use some polishing, here are a few expert tips.

Begin with what’s most critical.

A lot can be gained from most any business process, but some will inevitably prove more immediately beneficial than others. If you are want to maximize their effectiveness and achieve some early, quantitative wins, focus your efforts first on:

  • Processes with highest potential ROI
  • Processes that recur most often
  • Processes that frequently encounter issues

The goal is to hone in on the workflows where you can generate results quickly while also making the most impactful improvements.

Develop a checklist.

You don’t have to dig into the minutiae of the process. Instead, focus on the key steps in the workflow, developing a sequential list of tasks which demonstrate how the process is supposed to flow. If the process is electronic, consider recording it as it’s being carried out. The resulting video can then be used to create the checklist of steps or events.

Start optimizing.

Once you’ve mapped out each business process, it’s time to start finding areas where improvements can and should be made. Are there any redundancies that could be eliminated to speed things up? Are there bottlenecks along the way that impede progress and should be addressed?

Go over the documented workflows with appropriate team members to get their feedback and input. The more you involve other people in the practice of evaluating and optimizing your business workflows, the more buy-in and support you’ll gain.

Automate whenever and wherever possible.

Last, but certainly not least, automation can improve efficiency exponentially while also reducing human error. By introducing intelligent automation into your business processes, you’ll ensure a smooth, sequential flow of events and reduce (and often eliminate) the need for human intervention in the process.

Let’s say the business workflow you’re currently focusing on is password resets. It may seem simple, but in some organizations, this task alone can consume up to 40% of IT support’s daily workload. What if, instead of manually carrying out each painstaking step of phone authentication, execution of reset, confirmation, and documenting the call closure, you automated the entire process? Not only would password resets be carried out much more quickly, improving end-user satisfaction, but your IT would be freed up to focus their valuable skills on other, more important business initiatives.

Having business processes is important, but often even those processes can be improved and optimized for better results. By following the four simple steps above and leveraging the power of intelligent automation to your advantage, you can supercharge your processes and reap the many rewards that will come as a result.

Get started today with a free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG and be up and running with intelligent automation in less than an hour!

Building Your Automation Journey with 90-Day Outcomes

10 Steps Towards Operational Efficiency, Sustainably and Resiliency

As the world begins the slow transition into the “new normal,” organizations are facing the monumental challenge of rapid transformation. With so much uncertainty, ITOPs no longer has the luxury of taking its time in planning and carrying out long-term projects, what used to take several months, now happens overnight. Today’s IT leaders must find a way to compress and accelerate their efforts in order to achieve ROI as quickly as possible – and all while navigating relatively uncharted waters in the process.

Thankfully, rolling out automation in the post-COVID world doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s how your team can do so in 10 easy-to-implement, 90-day increments and be fully productive before you know it.

Step 1 – Identify Candidates

To begin, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Likewise, automating the wrong processes can completely derail your project. Start by analyzing your data sources, namely your ITSM records. The goal is to identify where you are currently spending the most time and money.

This analysis of your current policies and procedures should help you pinpoint which tasks, workflows and processes would produce the quickest wins if automated. Good candidates for automation include, but are not limited to, tasks that:

  • Have a high volume of tickets
    • Are repetitive with little variance
    • Require little or no human intervention
    • Are time consuming

Step 2 – Select Quick Wins

The previous step should have resulted in a shortlist of various tasks and workflows that, if automated, are likely to generate the fastest ROI. You want to be able to demonstrate to stakeholders the value of automation and get them onboard with widespread rollout. Showing them quantitative value as quickly as possible is key. To achieve this, prioritize your candidates so that your desired outcomes align with the ability to produce fast and measurable results. 

Step 3 – Document

The next 90-day phase should involve developing detailed documentation and flow charts, beginning with existing processes. Specifically, you should focus on identifying any and all manual steps that can and should be transitioned to automation.

It’s critically important during this phase that you remain cognizant of the fact that some existing processes may need to be fundamentally changed in order to take advantage of automation. Take a step back and examine each process thoroughly to determine whether it could benefit from redesign, either in part or in its entirety. Then, set to work re-imagining and reworking it accordingly.

Step 4 – Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Once you’ve generated a few quick wins from some low-hanging fruit, it’s time to dig deeper and start defining your longer-term objectives. How will you ultimately measure success? Try to stick with the SMART acronym as you develop your KPIs and potential outcomes:

  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few common hard ROI examples to get you started:

  • Reduce total number of tickets
  • Reduce # of tickets that require human interventions
  • Reduce # of tickets that are escalated from L1/L2
  • Shorten MTTR

In addition, you may want to include a few “soft” metrics as well, such as improved user satisfaction.

Step 5 – Design Workflow

Moving into phase five, it’s time to begin designing your automated workflows. At this point in the process, it’s important to remember that it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Heavy lifting is also not required here. Instead, lean on established technology and pre-built templates. For example, Ayehu features a massive library of pre-designed, existing workflows based on best practices developed from over 250 successful deployments. It’s also entirely codeless. All you need to do is match these up with the “quick wins” you identified in steps two and three and you’ll be ready to begin implementation.

Step 6 – Implement and Test

It’s time to start putting all of your hard work and planning into action, albeit in a safe, lower-risk environment. Using the pre-built templates you’ve matched with your automation initiatives, modify them as needed to suit your organization’s specific needs and goals. (Note: Ayehu’s visual designer can dramatically shorten time-to-value in this phase.)

Once your templates are customized and ready to be run, begin launching test workflows in a staging environment. This will allow you to identify and address any issues prior to live rollout, enabling you to avoid potentially costly problems down the road and increasing your likelihood of success.

Step 7 – Start a Pilot

You want your final rollout to be as close to perfection as possible, so you’ll need to do a great deal of testing before you officially launch. Working with a live pilot program & initial users first will enable you to continue identifying areas of concern and correcting them before deployment to the masses.

Ayehu can help with this as well by enabling you to easily move workflows from staging to production using our workflow migration feature. Conduct a pilot in a small scale production environment, measure your results and then modify workflows as needed based on the real-world feedback received.

Step 8 – Move to Production

When you’ve worked out all (or most of) the kinks and you’re confident that your automation project is working as planned and producing the desired results, it’s time to put your proverbial money where your mouth is and expand your usage into full production. This phase is often challenging to move into because, let’s be honest: it’s scary to take that leap. As a result, many IT teams end up in ‘pilot purgatory.’

Know that if you’ve done all the previous steps correctly, you should be ready to confidently move forward. It can be helpful during this phase to use the “bottom-line-value backward” approach, rather than focusing on technology. Make sure quantifiable metrics are collected, stored and adequately tracked.

Step 9 – Measure Results

For an automation project to achieve sustainable success, results must be measured and iterations performed on an ongoing basis. Once you’re officially in full production, you’ll need to continuously verify that you’re on the right track. Evaluate your results and compare them against the KPIs you defined in step four. As you identify procedures that are no longer adding value, be swift and decisive about eliminating them. (Note: if you are using Ayehu, your management dashboard can serve as a reporting aid, making this process much more efficient and effective.)

Step 10 – Promote Outcome

The final phase in the process, and the key to sustaining continuous improvement, is to obtain executive buy-in. Utilize all of the quantifiable data you’ve gathered over the previous nine steps, compile it and report it to the “powers that be.” Remember to use established KPIs and each one’s subsequent ROI to provide compelling proof of success. This will enable you to gain the approval you’ll need to expand and broaden your automation reach, which will bring you full circle back to phase one again.

Automation doesn’t have to be some distant goal on the horizon. By breaking down a multi-year project into a series of smaller, more achievable steps, you’ll be at the finish line before you know it. More importantly, you’ll already have a number of victories and best practices under your belt by the time you arrive.

Start today by downloading your free 30-day trial of Ayehu NG.

5 Things That will Derail an IT Automation Project

The process of implementing something new will almost always involve making a few mistakes, veering in the wrong direction and eventually figuring out a way to correct those missteps and prevent those risks in the future. Adopting IT automation is no exception. If you aren’t careful, the mistakes you make can become embedded into your business processes. As a result, these errors will occur at scale and ultimately become much more difficult to control and correct.

On the other hand, when you proactively detect errors and take the steps to address and correct them right away, you’ll have much more success with the technology. That said, here are five common pitfalls that can wreak havoc on your IT automation project so you’ll know what to watch for and avoid.

Lack of clear and accurate understanding.

Simply put, you cannot adequately solve a problem that you don’t fully understand. The same concept can be applied to IT automation initiatives. If you don’t completely understand what problem you are actually trying to solve, the risk of errors goes up exponentially.

To avoid this, begin with a hypothesis statement. Define the problem that you are trying to resolve and determine which models you plan on using to address that issue. This is critical, because if it’s not done correctly from the start, things can go wrong very quickly.

Poor data quality.

The old adage, “garbage in, garbage out” can easily be applied to IT automation projects, especially those that involve machine learning and AI. If the quality of the data you are supplying isn’t up to par, the outcome will inevitably suffer. In fact, poor data quality is one of the top concerns of data managers, as it can impact analytics and ultimately influence business decisions in the wrong direction.

The result of these poor decisions can negatively affect performance and make it difficult to garner support for future initiatives. Exploratory data analysis (EDA) can help you proactively identify data quality issues so you can prevent problems before they occur.

Absence of specific purpose.

Another common contributor to IT automation failure is implementation without a clear purpose. In order for automation to generate positive ROI, it must be applied properly – not simply because it’s the trendy thing to do. In fact, using AI and automation when it’s not the best solution to a problem can actually cause more harm than good.

In addition to addressing the wrong problem, doing so can involve wasted time and resources, both of which come at a cost. To avoid this, identify the precise problem and desired outcome to determine whether IT automation truly is the appropriate solution. 

Insufficient resources.

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of resources required to implement IT automation properly, in particular as it relates to infrastructure. Without adequate processing power, successfully implementing automated solutions in a timely manner can be difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, without the resources in place to allow for its deployment and use, what’s the point?

To address the expense and complexity of deploying a scalable infrastructure, leveraging a cloud service that can be provisioned on-demand may be the better option. Those wishing to keep things in-house should look for a lightweight, plug-and-play solution that doesn’t require coding and can be deployed across both on-premises as well as private cloud platforms.

Poor planning and lack of governance.

It’s not unusual for an IT automation project to start off with tremendous enthusiasm only to lose momentum and ultimately end up grinding to a halt. When this happens, poor planning and lack of governance is most often to blame. For those projects that don’t cease, a lack of guidelines and limits can result in an exorbitant expenditure of resources without the beneficial end results. 

To keep things moving in the right direction, IT automation initiatives must be continuously monitored. In the event that progress begins to wane, it can be wise to take a break and reevaluate the effort. Keeping people engaged in the process is the key.

IT automation can be a tremendous asset to an organization, but only if it’s planned, implemented and managed properly. By avoiding the five common pitfalls listed above, you can place your company in a much better position and improve your chances of long-term, sustainable success.

Free Ebook: 10 time-consuming IT tasks you should automate!

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Workforce

Best Practices for Running a Remote Operation

The latest health crisis has forced many organizations into making the transition to remote work much more urgently than many would have liked. As such, a scramble to manage the logistics, like what kind of equipment will be needed, how to provision remote workers and how to maintain maximum data security have become the focus. What’s not being talked about nearly as much, but is equally as important, is how leaders who are used to managing staff in-person must adjust their approach in order to make the transition as seamless and undisruptive as possible.

Be intentional about individualization.

Not every employee is motivated or driven by the same things. Some may work best when given autonomy while others may require more hands-on leadership. Under normal circumstances, focusing on the unique needs and preferences of each employee is strongly recommended. When managing from a distance, this becomes even more critical. Managers must take the time to determine the circumstances and conditions under which each individual employee will perform at his or her best. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to remote work simply won’t cut it.

Set clear expectations right from the start.

Did you know that nearly half of all employees in the U.S. do not know what’s expected of them? Add remote work into the mix, and things could go off the rails pretty quick. To mitigate this risk, remote managers need to set crystal clear expectations with each and every employee. Specifically, employees should know exactly what the work entails, what the quality of that work should be and precisely when it is due. There should be no ambiguity whatsoever.

Arm them with everything they need.

You can’t simply hand out tasks and expect your team to perform them if they don’t have the equipment, information, guidance and support they need to carry out those tasks successfully. This is the case in an on-site operation, but even more so in a remote working environment, where people can tend to feel isolated. Implement technology that facilitates collaboration. Provide self-service options, like virtual support agents, so remote workers can receive the support they need on-demand. And make sure leadership is available to answer questions, provide feedback and offer guidance as needed.

Communicate openly and often.

One of the biggest challenges of working remotely, as mentioned earlier, is the feeling of isolation that comes along with it. This is magnified for employees who are accustomed to working on-site, where colleagues and managers are present in the flesh. Understand that managing a remote team may require more frequent communication, whether it be team meetings or one-on-one sessions (ideally, a combination of both). The key is emphasizing relationships, which are more challenging to forge from a distance.

Be supportive of front-line management.

Executive leadership needs to recognize that front-line managers are suddenly being forced to adapt to an entirely new way of working, and practically overnight. It’s an adjustment that brings with it a unique set of concerns that must be taken into consideration. For example, some managers may worry that they’ll be held accountable for disruptions to workflow that they have no control over. Others may find it difficult to trust employees that they cannot physically see working. Support and guidance – practical and emotional – is needed to make this transition as painless for managers as possible.

A Look Ahead…

A recent Gallup study found that 43% of employees in the U.S. are already working remotely to some degree. Thanks to recent circumstances, that number just skyrocketed. And although there will certainly be some growing pains, there’s a significant chance that once the dust settles and life returns to normal once again, far fewer employees will actually return to the office. By learning how to manage a remote operation now, you’ll position your organization for a much smoother ride, both today as well as in the future.

Click here to find out how Ayehu is helping organizations across the globe make the transition to remote working.