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Preparing Your Business for the “New Normal”

So much has changed over the past few months, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to its collective knees. Businesses in just about every industry have felt the sudden and devastating effects of what such a global crisis can do, both from a human health as well as an economic standpoint. And with a projected timeframe to exit of anywhere from six to 12 months, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is still but a faint glimmer of hope.

If there’s one positive that has come from this crisis, it’s that business leaders now have a better sense of what their organization can or cannot do. They’re also beginning to understand how they can expect to move forward once the dust settles and the economy finally opens again. And while we all look forward to getting back to normal, the reality is, the workplace as we once knew it may never be the same again.

New social behavior, added restrictions, travel precautions and such are forcing decision-makers to think about how to do more with less. Less complicated, less expensive, yet at the same time agile and effective. Just what will this “new normal” look like and how can businesses prepare? Let’s take a look.

Remote/digital will become a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Oftentimes we have to be forced out of our comfort zones before we can accept and embrace change in a positive, productive way. This can easily be said for the many organizations that were abruptly thrust into the world of remote work. Suddenly, business leaders found themselves scrambling to enable work-from-home capabilities in order to keep operations going and avoid, or at least limit, disruption as much as possible.

What many have discovered during this trying period, however, is that – provided it’s supported by the right policies and technologies – not only is remote work completely feasible, but it’s also a much more attractive option for the company’s bottom line. As a result, more business processes will likely permanently transition to fully digital.

This includes industries like remote medicine, remote shopping and delivery and remote physical fitness, as well as functional areas like marketing (move to online marketing and virtual events), sales (a fully digital sales cycle – from demo and remote installation/remote POC, to remote deployment without ever physically interacting with a customer) and yes, even IT…which brings us to our next point.

IT projects will continue (they have to!), but they will require re-prioritization. With time frames being compressed due to uncertainty, IT managers will need to find ways to break projects down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Because they don’t know what type of budget they will have to work with in three to six months, they must focus on tasks that can be completed in shorter time frames – say, three months, or three to four weeks at a time. 

Automation is the key to the future of work.

The organizations that will be leaders in this “new normal” are the ones that will quickly make the needed changes to adapt to these remote work/WFH situations – and automation can play a key role in this adoption.

Specifically, automation can accelerate the transition, enabling businesses to retain knowledge even when people aren’t available. It also enables ITOps – even those that no longer operate on a single on premise infrastructure – to keep the lights on while simultaneously becoming more efficient by doing more with fewer people on-site. Likewise, IT projects can more easily be broken down into milestones with automation either augmenting or handling them entirely autonomously.

With the right automated platform, organizations will be able to accelerate out of this situation and position themselves stronger and even more effective on the other side. The good news is, this technology is easy to access and can be ramped up in less than one day. If you are a business leader or key decision-maker and you’re trying to figure out how to prepare your organization for the future of work – the “new normal” – Ayehu can become your saving grace.

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

Still holding out on IT automation? Here are 4 signs the time has come.

stop resisting IT automation

IT automation is certainly not a new concept. In fact, it’s been in use to some degree for over a century. Yet, there are still a great number of enterprise-level organizations that are on the fence about whether this advanced technology is really worth investing in. If you are one of these late bloomers and are still unsure of whether or not you should take the plunge and employ intelligent IT automation in your company, here are four signs that will let you know it’s time.

Your IT department is struggling to deliver services in a timely, efficient manner.

When a ticket gets opened to IT, how long does it take to achieve satisfactory resolution? In today’s fast-paced business environment, regardless of what industry you are in, agility and efficiency are absolutely critical to ongoing success and future growth. If the demands of your workforce are becoming too much for your skilled IT personnel to handle, the time to leverage technology has come. Not only will IT automation alleviate the burden of many of the day-to-day repetitive tasks, but it will also free up your talented technicians to apply their valuable skills in a more resourceful and profitable manner.

You have way too many staff members on hand just to handle those peak cycles.

Optimized resource allocation is the key to running a lean, profitable operation. If you have far too many IT employees on the payroll just so you can ensure smooth workflow during peak cycles, you are undoubtedly wasting money the rest of the year. Conversely, if your current IT department becomes completely overwhelmed during those peak cycles, your capacity is too low and you’re likely to see higher employee turnover rates. IT automation provides the ability to scale up or down as needed without having to make any changes to your human workforce.

Your employees are wasting an incredible amount of time and effort on repetitive tasks.

Even if you feel that your operation is being managed at the appropriate capacity and the turnaround time of your IT department is acceptable, if your IT team is spending the majority of their day completing manual tasks and processes, you’re wasting money and missing out on opportunity. You’re also facing a much higher risk of costly human error. Why not let artificial intelligence handle these simple, routine tasks? That way you’ll be paying an appropriate salary to workers who are able to better utilize their valuable skillset and the work will be completed faster and more accurately.

Your legacy systems and applications are operating independently.

Of course it doesn’t make sense to invest in an entire system overhaul, but what kind of operation are you running if every application you’ve got in place is functioning in its own silo. The problem many organizations face is the fact that legacy systems which offer useful benefits individually don’t have the capability of working together. This leads to tremendous inefficiency. The beauty of most modern IT automation and orchestration platforms is that they are designed to integrate existing systems, platforms and applications to create a more cohesive and streamlined infrastructure. This allows the organization to avail itself of all the benefits of each legacy system as they work in tandem, complementing and enhancing each other’s capabilities.

If you can relate to any of the four challenges listed above, the time to consider adopting intelligent IT automation is now. Get started today with your free 30 day trial and see for yourself what you’ve been missing out on.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Still need a reason to automate your IT processes? Here are six.

These days more and more businesses are adopting intelligent automation to help streamline operations, improve efficiency, boost service levels, cut costs and more. And while the overall goals and objectives of each organization may differ, sometimes to a great degree, there are a number of universal reasons that key decision makers cite for why they ultimately opted to automate their IT processes. If you’re still on the fence, here are 6 key advantages to consider.

Automation of Repetitive Maintenance Procedures – Every IT department has its own fair share of routine processes and procedures that must be performed to ensure that operations continue to run as smoothly as possible for everyone within the organization. Unfortunately, many of these IT processes are highly redundant, such as checking disk space, system restarts, monitoring log files, resetting passwords and managing user profiles. All of these things can and should be shifted to automation.

Enhanced Incident Management – Incident management is one of the most frequently automated and subsequently optimized IT processes. Businesses are under constant threat and it’s become increasingly clear that the human workforce simply cannot keep up. By automating the incident monitoring, response and remediation process, the entire operation maintains a greater degree of accuracy and security.

Reduction of Errors and False Positives – IT personnel are constantly being inundated with incoming requests and, as a result, are often bogged down putting out fires and chasing their tails. This heavy volume of work coupled with the increasing demands can dramatically increase the amount of costly errors committed. Incorporating automation as a central part of critical IT processes can dramatically reduce errors and also eliminate time-consuming false positives.

Empower Skilled Employees – Automating basic, routine and repetitive IT processes is something everyone in the department can benefit from. IT leaders can focus their valuable skills and experience on more complex, mission-critical business initiatives and front-line IT workers are empowered to resolve issues without the need to escalate to management.

Integrate Disparate Systems, Programs and Applications – Maintaining a plethora of different systems, apps and programs is a very inefficient and ineffective way to do business. In many cases, these silos actually work against, rather than with, each other, further hindering operational efficiency. The right automation tool can effectively integrate with these legacy platforms to create a more connected, cohesive and collaborative interdepartmental environment.

Establishment of Documented Best Practices – The very nature of IT automation is that it creates and maintains a series of consistent, repeatable (and therefore often predictable) patterns and processes. It also provides visibility, insight and the ability to identify, establish, document and hone best practices for improved operations moving forward.

Could your organization benefit from any of these basic advantages of automation? Find out today by starting your free 30 day trial of Ayehu NG.

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5 Ways to Adopt IT Automation Without Breaking the Bank

It’s been a long-held belief in the business world that IT automation projects are costly endeavors. The good news is they don’t have to be. In fact, with the right solution in place, you can easily streamline your IT operations to actually save your business money in the long run. Here are 5 ways that you can develop, implement and deploy IT automation projects for your organization in a way that is cost effective and efficient.

Choose the right tool for your needs. You may think this is easier said than done, but it’s not. The key is to apply the 80/20 rule – that is, beware of IT automation tools that you may only use 20% of the time, but that require 80% of your time to make them work. Instead, select an IT automation tool that allows you to focus on the specific pain points of your particular business, gain quick wins, and manage projects of any size. Finally, make sure the tool is scalable to be able grow as your business needs change.

Take a modular solution approach. Another cost effective way to manage IT automation for your organization is to break each project into individual modules, and then implement each of those modules as needed. This also makes the project more manageable and easier to monitor.

Use an IT automation platform that is easy to use and simple to operate. Tools that are complex and difficult to learn and adapt to mean an added expense for your business, both in terms of the time of deployment and the training it will take to bring staff up to speed with the new process. When evaluating IT process automation tools, make sure that you select one that will be easy to implement and simple enough for everyone on your team to learn and use.

Select a platform that offers pre-packaged workflow templates, integration packs and out-of-the-box functionality. Again, when it comes to running a successful business, time is money. If your IT personnel has to spend hours, days and weeks writing tedious scripts, then you’re losing money. IT automation should be about saving time and improving efficiency. When you can leverage already designed workflows and other standard pre-packaged features, you’ll be able to achieve this goal more effectively.

Prepare your team. The last step for managing an affordable IT automation project is to implement adequate training to your team and bringing the right people on board to manage the project effectively. Determine what skills are needed to get the job done correctly and in the most efficient manner possible, and then set about lining up the right people to handle the job.

It’s time we dispel the myth that IT automation has to be a huge expense, making it out of the reach of small to mid-size businesses. To the contrary, when you approach your IT automation projects from the right direction, with knowledge of what to look for in a platform, and you adequately plan and prepare the right personnel for the job, it can easily be managed within just about any budget. The end result, a savings across your entire organization, will be well worth it in the end.

Want to make your IT automation project a success without breaking the bank? Give Ayehu a try today for FREE.
eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

7 Time-Saving Tips for Busy IT Leaders

Without a doubt, the IT industry is one in which time is a precious commodity. It’s incredibly easy to become bogged down with the nitty gritty details and waste resources putting out fires to the point where other key areas of the organization begin to suffer. If optimizing your time is a priority for you (and/or your team), this article is for you. Read on to learn a few expert tips on how to find efficiencies, eliminate time-wasters and kick bad habits to the curb once and for all.

Tighten up your email practices.

Checking, sending and responding to emails is a huge time suck. But until it officially becomes a thing of the past, email is still something most IT folks will have to deal with. Optimizing your practices can make things more efficient. For instance, schedule specified time to manage email and use other communication methods, such as SMS, for urgent requests. Also, watch who you cc. If you’re including people on your messages who don’t really need to be included, you’re wasting your team’s time as well.

Ditch the waterfall.

Once a widely accepted project management methodology, waterfall has proven to be more of a hassle than what it’s worth, mainly because it can result in tremendous inefficiency. For instance, if developers discover something faulty with a previous step, the entire project must be scrapped and started afresh. And because testing doesn’t happen until later in the process, any existing bugs could have resulted in incorrect coding. If your team is still using waterfall practices, it may be time to consider making the switch to agile.

Expand your network.

It’s easy to feel as though the problems you, your team or your organization are experiencing are unique, but in reality most IT leaders are struggling with the same issues. Some of these other folks may already have figured out the best solution. Rather than wasting time, spinning your wheels and brainstorming on your own, why not tap into your network of peers. By leveraging the insight and advice of others, your decision-making will be faster and more on-point.

Automate.

To some, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many IT leaders are still dragging their feet on the automation front. Yet, when you look at the actual, quantifiable numbers, the benefits of automation and AI are staggering. According to a recent report by WorkMarket, 53% of employees say automation could save them up to 2 work hours per day (240 hours per year) and that number goes up to 3 work hours (360 hours per year) for 78% business leaders. At an average workweek of 40 hours, that equates to a time savings of 6 weeks for employees and 9 full weeks for leaders. What could you and your team do with that much time savings?

Scratch the standups.

Daily standup meetings may seem like a good idea on the surface, but when you gather your team on such a frequent basis, the results hardly make it worth the time. The real value of meetings lies in problem-solving, brainstorming and real-time collaboration. Daily scrum, on the other hand, tend to be more about status updates, which isn’t really the best use of anyone’s time. If daily huddles are currently your thing, you may want to consider spacing those meetings out and reserving them for specific needs rather than check-ins.

Fail fast and ditch what isn’t working.

Just because something’s always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. In fact, you or your team could very well be wasting precious time on practices and policies that are out-of-date and wildly inefficient. Agile isn’t just a methodology for project management. It’s also an important mindset – particularly for an IT leader. Make the coming year one in which you work to identify things that aren’t working and take the necessary steps to change them for the better.

Don’t be an island.

Just because you happen to be in a position of power at your organization doesn’t mean you have to solve problems entirely on your own. To the contrary, the most efficient and successful IT leaders not only value but actively seek the assistance of others. Think about it. You are already leading a team of educated problem-solvers. Your job should be to expose existing issues and then let the team determine the best resolution. Not only will this save you time and aggravation, but it’ll also enable you to develop a sense of trust and respect amongst your employees, which can go a long way toward retention.

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7 Tips for Reducing IT Personnel Turnover

7 Tips for Reducing IT Staff TurnoverAs any IT leader will acknowledge, attracting top talent is only half the battle. It’s keeping them on that’s the real challenge. And with an average employee tenure of only about 3 years, it’s a serious concern for many organizations across the globe. Add in the complex, fast paced and highly stressful role of IT and you’ve got quite the conundrum. So, what’s the secret? How can you keep your talented employees on for the long haul? Here are 7 tips to point you in the right direction.

Keep them challenged. The last thing you want is for your IT personnel to become bored and stagnant in their current positions. Avoid this by investing in ongoing training, setting up mentoring programs, and offering opportunities to learn about and master new strategies and technologies. The more you keep your IT employees engaged and involved, the less likely they’ll be to look elsewhere.

Rotate project time. Being stuck on the same project day in and day out can lead to fatigue and frustration. Consider rotating employees onto various IT projects so that they don’t feel stuck. This will provide exposure to and the opportunity to learn about new skills and also open up the door to be able to approach long-term projects from differing perspectives – both of which can benefit your organization.

Give them the tools they need. These days, keeping up with the onslaught of incoming requests is nothing short of exhausting. Don’t leave your IT personnel out to dry by making them handle this monumental task manually. Arm them with the technology they need to do their jobs better, faster, more efficiently and more effectively, such as IT automation.

Provide a safe place to vent. Without question, the job of keeping an entire organization safe from the potentially devastating financial and reputational damage a successful breach can have is incredibly stressful. Additionally, IT personal often feel tense due to the amount of classified and confidential information they are entrusted with. Provide an opportunity and a secure avenue for these employees to vent their feelings.

Encourage time off. Everybody needs a little down time, but given the fast-paced and highly stressful field of IT, these employees could probably use some time off more than anyone else in your organization. This is where technology can help. By automating a good portion of tasks and leveraging the cloud to embrace more flexibility, your team can take the much needed time off they deserve without the company feeling any negative impact.

Use realistic metrics to measure success. One of the biggest reasons IT professionals find themselves dissatisfied at work is because they feel they aren’t being adequately recognized. This is often due to a lack of clear and specific metrics for success. Management should set realistic expectations, communicate openly and routinely measure progress. Good work should be rewarded and areas of improvement identified and addressed in a positive, productive way.

Empower them. If your employees feel that their only option is to come in every day and put in 10-12 hours of labor, they’re not going to develop any kind of connection or loyalty to your organization. On the other hand, if they know that the work they do plays a direct role in the “big picture” and that their achievements are tied into the company’s overall success, they’ll be much more plugged in, which means they’re more likely to stay on for the long haul. Empower them by inviting ideas and encouraging autonomy.

Are you doing enough to keep your IT personnel satisfied, engaged and plugged in? If not, you could be facing higher turnover, which can negatively impact your company’s bottom line and also leave you more vulnerable. By implementing the above tips, you’ll create a more positive work environment that fosters longevity. Happy employees will work harder to ensure that your organization remains strong, secure and successful.

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