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New Challenges and Opportunities for IT Process Automation

New Challenges and Opportunities for IT Process AutomationIn today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, one of the biggest challenges organizations are facing is how to successfully bring together all of their various technologies to ensure that their  IT operations are run as efficiently as possible while also remaining secure and compliant. To further complicate things, many businesses are struggling to find a way to marry their physical, virtual and cloud environments effectively. Finally, for investors, there are many unanswered questions about whether opportunities truly exist and what those opportunities may be. IT Process Automation delivers the solution to both of these dilemmas.

Out with the old, and in with the new

As technology improves, more and more businesses are finding it necessary to begin shifting from their existing IT systems, many of which are becoming obsolete, to more up-to-date options. Cloud computing has broken down barriers and opened countless doors, particularly for small to mid-size enterprises to be able to “come of age” and deliver the same level of service and performance as their larger competition. This has been easy for those firms just coming to market, but for those existing companies that have thus far subsisted with various antiquated programs and systems, making the transition can be a challenge.

How IT Process Automation can help?

IT Process Automation continues to revolutionize the way organizations do business, both internally and externally. One of the most powerful benefits of this technology is that it can become both a catalyst for change and the glue that connects the old on-premise systems to the new, improved and much more flexible cloud environment. This technology allows businesses to seamlessly integrate their legacy on-premise applications with new cloud-based systems and effectively pull together all of the various silos that once might have slowed the organization down.

What does this mean for the end user?

Another excellent advantage that IT Process Automation offers is its incredibly low technical learning curve. Whether your end-users are familiar with Active Directory, ServiceNow, VMware vSphere or another system or program, integration with an IT process automation system is virtually undetectable. Organizations have the option of still sticking with a program or system that they feel comfortable using, while also receiving the benefits of IT Process Automation, such as improved productivity, better allocation of resources and faster mean time to recovery (MTTR).

What does this mean for the potential investor?

Investors want to see that the businesses they will be supporting are on top of their game – particularly in terms of technology. How are operations run? What kind of systems are in place to maximize efficiency and improve production overall? When an organization is operating with multiple separate silos (physical, virtual and cloud), there is a much greater risk of interruption, which can be costly for the business and ultimately for the investor. With the right IT Process Automation tool in place, all of these silos can be seamlessly knit together for optimum performance and operational efficiency.

This type of solution presents more opportunity than risk to investors, which in turn creates better opportunity for the businesses themselves to receive the support they need to grow and achieve further success.

In conclusion…

The moral of the story is this: if your business is a little bit behind and you’re finding it necessary to somehow bring together all of your systems, IT process automation can help. Not only will you be able to easily integrate all of your silos, but you’ll also realize improved efficiency with the added tools IT Process Automation delivers. And when investors explore the possibility of supporting your organization, all of these benefits will make your business a more attractive option. In short, ITPA can enable you to rise to the next level and gain the competitive advantage you need to truly be successful.

What can IT Process Automation do for your business?

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




5 Key Areas Where IT Process Automation Can Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your IT Department

5 Key Areas Where IT Process Automation Can Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your IT DepartmentWithout question, IT Process Automation (ITPA) has made a significant and permanent impact on the IT world. This technology has essentially provided IT professionals with the ability finally accomplish what they’ve been challenged with for decades: maximizing performance 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, IT Process Automation has changed the face of IT for the better.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at 5 specific areas where IT Process Automation can produce the greatest benefit for your IT department and/or organization as a whole.

 

1. IT Organization

The old way of doing business involved individual silos and separate departments. In today’s digital age, the most successful organizations are the ones that are able to harness technology to break down these barriers and bridge the gap between departments and functions, effectively promoting collaboration and fostering innovation. IT Process Automation can provide the tools necessary to achieve this type of organization.

2. IT Infrastructure

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

3. IT Support

Support that is enhanced with IT Process Automation can ensure 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.

4. 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. Automation can help by allowing IT operations the reallocation of resources so that personnel can focus on furthering their education and expertise.

5. General Routine / Repetitive Tasks

Those every day, repetitive manual tasks that your IT department is buried under are inevitably costing your business money. Workflow automation and self-service options can alleviate this concern by taking the burden off personnel. 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. IT 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.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Deliver IT Services Faster, Cheaper, and Better – Impossible?

Deliver IT Services Faster, Cheaper, and Better – ImpossibleWhile IT professionals certainly embrace technology as an integral component of the ongoing success of any business, the “powers that be” view technology as simply a means to an end. High level management and other stakeholders in the organization don’t care about the driving force behind what’s making the company run efficiently and productively – they really just care about the results. The ultimate goal is to continue to deliver a high level of IT Services in a way that is faster and less expensive. How do I&O leaders accomplish this without having to reinvent the wheel? By prioritizing service management and IT Process Automation. Here’s how.

Identify

The first step in prioritizing automation for IT Service Management (ITSM) is identifying the key areas within the organization that need to be addressed – the pain points, if you will. What areas are causing the most significant delays, expenses, and general frustration both internally and externally amongst customers? The problem with service management is that the customer focus has somehow become lost along the way. To be successful, IT professionals must begin to regain that focus and realign their planning to match up with the needs of the customers.

Design

Once the areas that present the most need are identified, IT professionals can set to work designing and developing the most effective solutions to meet these needs. In many cases, automation will be a key factor in streamlining operations and making the business run more efficiently as a whole. The more efficiently run the business, the better the output and service levels for the customer, so it’s a win-win. Not only can individual tasks be automated, but entire manual workflows can be designed to address whatever unique barriers were holding that particular business back from becoming more successful.

Implement

With the right plan in place, implementation should be a breeze. That’s why the first two steps are key. New processes and workflows can be rolled out, first in the IT department, then across all lines of business to create a more efficient operation overall. The concept of each department as a separate entity should be replaced by a more unified approach where IT departments and other teams work together toward a common goal (as we pointed out in our recent article about DevOps and IT Process Automation.)

Optimize

The last step in the process is an ongoing one, and that is to continuously monitor, measure and analyze the outcomes to ensure that they are consistently optimized. IT personnel must ensure the ongoing availability and quality of business services, both within the organization and externally. Not only should they ensure that previous processes and workflows are still being run at the highest level of efficiency and improved productivity, but they must also work proactively to ensure continuous improvement moving forward.

Essentially, service management and IT Process Automation go hand in hand and are critical in streamlining and optimizing the operations of any business. Yet simply understanding and embracing this concept isn’t enough to make the process a success. IT professionals must learn to prioritize the process and execute it in the most effective and efficient way possible to achieve the ultimate goal of improving the quality and timeliness of IT service delivery. This will better ensure that the “powers that be” see the ever-important results that they rely so heavily on and keep the business plugging on toward future success.

Could your service management process use a boost? IT Process Automation is the key.



5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation




New Critical Roles in Future IT Infrastructure and Operations

New Critical Roles in Future IT Infrastructure and OperationsThe world of IT Infrastructure is fluid, and as such, is constantly evolving to meet the changing demands of the businesses and industries it serves. A recent shift has been made toward developing technology and processes that not only streamlines the operational tasks of a business, but also focuses on service and support as a top priority. Gone are the days when all IT was responsible for was handling the back-end processing tasks.

The future of IT infrastructure and operations is about the big picture – managing processes from start to finish and delivering real solutions to the end-user. As a result, a number of new roles have emerged and are beginning to take shape, slowly replacing the tech-heavy positions of the past with more robust and balanced skillsets. Here are a few of these new roles that we can expect to see as the coming years unfold.

Designers and Assemblers

As we move toward a more well-rounded approach to IT, it is becoming more and more evident that to be successful, infrastructures will need to carefully develop robust portfolios of services that combine a variety of options from multiple sources – internally, externally and cloud-based. Expert designers and assemblers will be needed to develop these portfolios and ensure that the services within come together seamlessly and deliver results in the most efficient way possible.

Architects

Just as the very foundation of IT operations is evolving, so are the responsibilities of those who handle the day to day duties of the field. Architects are no exception. Presently, architects are spending an exorbitant amount of time and resources on menial operational responsibilities, such as system support functions and project execution. As IT Process Automation (ITPA) becomes more commonplace, many of these elementary duties will be eliminated, creating an opportunity for architects to apply their skills to more important strategic responsibilities, such as monitoring service vendors to ensure that what they are delivering is in line with the overall direction of the organization. Additionally, we will see architects taking on more responsibilities as they are freed up by technological advancements.

Process Design Experts

Because the future of IT infrastructure and operations involves a more robust and comprehensive business approach, the very design of internal processes will need to be modified and enhanced to accommodate these changes. Process design experts will be needed to analyze and polish internal processes, such as how change management is handled with new cloud-based applications. As IT operations evolve, so must the processes by which tasks are accomplished in order to ensure that everything continues to run smoothly and efficiently.

Vendor Managers

The more businesses begin to rely on external services as part of their robust IT portfolio, the more critical it becomes to monitor these outside vendors to prevent costly mistakes. Today’s operations view vendor management as a smaller function, but as we shift toward more abstracted services, the role becomes increasingly larger and more significant. Vendor managers will be required to closely monitor external services, well beyond the specifics of their contracts, to ensure stability and reduce liability to the organization.

Planners

With an ever-increasing list of infrastructure options, particularly those that can be customized and deployed rapidly, businesses must carefully consider the liability and complexity involved with integrating such a service with their existing systems. Planners will be needed to strategically analyze and tactically measure these services against their present processes, specifically narrowing down the choices to only those services that are in line with the direction of the organization and can be safely and seamlessly integrated with their existing infrastructure.

As we steamroll forward into the promising future of IT operations, it is becoming increasingly evident that the required technical skills of the past are changing. No longer will businesses be able to rely on traditional IT professionals, each with their own fragmented skillset. Instead, they will need to shift their focus toward IT Process Automation Engineers who will be prepared to take on the new roles listed here and better position the business for future success.

Is your organization ready to take on these changing IT roles?





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




How to get started with establishing effective IT Operations in 4 steps

The Case for Network Security Operations AutomationBusinesses today depend upon robust technology solutions that must be able to scale to meet growing demands while simultaneously maintaining near perfect reliability. Effective IT Operations helps organizations stay competitive against market forces and competitive demand. IT Service Operation relies upon process automation in order to identify and address potential problems. Establishing effective processes must start with a thorough understanding of the business goals and requirements; well-defined processes are not enough by themselves. IT Service Operations also depends upon robust tools and practices. This article will help you get started with establishing effective IT Operations using well-respected industry best practices.

Understanding IT Operations

I have worked with many operations professionals who were responsible for the day-to-day care of large scale mission critical systems. The most common problem that I have seen is that they lag behind on the essential technical knowledge that is required to handle incidents and problems as they come up. This should not be a surprise as it is the developers who get the lead time to learn new technologies and also get to make (and understand) technical choices. The DevOps movement is helping to bridge the knowledge gap between Development and Operations by focusing on a set of core shared principles, including the need for better communication. The good news is that IT Operations can also implement industry best practices by following mature frameworks such as itSMF ITIL v3. Understanding IT operations also depends upon establishing both robust processes and well-defined organizational functions.

The Need for Process

A process can be defined as a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs [1]. Well defined processes describe the required tasks, roles and responsibilities along with the key checkpoints to ensure that the process is being followed. In practice, processes are normally enforced through a workflow automation tool. The ITIL v3 framework discusses a number of service operation processes including event management, incident management, problem management, request fulfillment and access management. In addition, there are several other supporting processes, a particularly crucial one being knowledge management [2]. Event management monitors all events that occur throughout the IT infrastructure and helps to facilitate the detection and escalation of exception conditions or what are often called incidents. Incident management concentrates on restoring service to users as quickly as possible, in order to minimize business impact[2]. Problem management involves root-cause analysis to determine and resolve the cause of events and incidents. Request fulfillment focuses on the management of customer or user requests that are not generated from an unexpected service delay or disruption [2]. Access management is similar to request fulfillment but focuses more on addressing access and authentication requests, such as user account lockouts and password resets.

When you call a Help Desk, you expect that each of these situations will be addressed in a reliable and consistent way. Repeatable processes are essential if you want to be able to ensure that your services are continuously operational and meet the business needs. But processes also need to be supported by organizational functions.

Functions Support the Process

Functions are organizational structures that have sufficient staffing and resources to get the job done. Some common functions include the Service Desk, Technical Management, IT Operations Management, and Application Management. The Service Desk is the primary point of contact for users when there is a service disruption[3]. If you have ever called a Help Desk when a system was down then you know how important it is for the Service Desk personnel to have accurate and complete information. IT Operations Management is responsible for the daily operational activities needed to manage the IT infrastructure. IT Operations is often faced with addressing critical incidents without sufficient information and expertise. This is precisely where a knowledge management system can be very helpful. The Known Error Database (KEDB) provides details of previous incidents/problems and their resolutions [4] so that problems can be understood and addressed quickly. Knowledge is critical for successful IT operations and establishing a comprehensive Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) [2] is an essential industry best practice described in the ITIL v3 framework. Processes and functions are important, but the fact is that you will not be successful unless you implement the right tools. IT process automation is an absolute must have for successful IT Operations and IT Process Automation tools are a must have if you want to automate your processes.

Automating Your IT Processes

The right tools have automated process workflows for the most common tasks already implemented and readily available. User dashboards provide updated information along with out-of-the box reports. IT Process Automation tools should have a workflow designer interface to allow for collaboration in determining the necessary steps and checkpoints for what can be very complex workflows. In fact, IT process automation helps to tame the more complex situations by starting with a simple template that can then be customized and enhanced in an iterative and realistic way. Evaluating and selecting the right tools will help you implement effective IT Service Operations which will ensure that your organization has reliable services that can be developed and scaled to support your business in today’s competitive global business environment.

Conclusion

It is not easy to establish effective IT Operations. But if you start with industry best practices and the right tools then you will give your business a clear advantage that will help you achieve success and profitability.

Guest author Bob Aiello





EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)




Why IT Process Automation is a Must-Have for IT Operations Teams

Why Automation is a Must-Have for IT Operations TeamsIT operations teams are under increasing pressure to maximize efficiency while also reducing costs. That means they’re being asked to perform at the highest level of output without the ability to increase staff numbers. In other words, in today’s competitive landscape, IT personnel are expected to find a way to do more with less. How is this possible? Simple. By employing automation. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that can be realized by doing so.

Eliminate Inefficiency – Just about any process currently being handled by human IT operations that is manual, repetitive and time-consuming can and should be automated. This can dramatically improve efficiency levels.

Reduce Errors – As careful as we are, humans are prone to making errors. Couple this with the fact that handling mundane, repetitive tasks can increase the chances of making a mistake, and you have a potentially costly problem on your hands. Shifting these tasks and workflows to an automation tool dramatically reduces and often eliminates errors altogether.

Maximize Staffing Usage – IT professionals are highly skilled individuals. By leveraging automation, the menial tasks will be handled by technology, allowing staff to further develop their skillsets and focus their expertise on more complex and strategic business matters. This also eliminates the need to hire additional staff to handle increased demands in workload. With automation, the same capacity can handle a greater amount of work.

Improve Satisfaction Levels – With an automation tool in place, IT operations can provide a much greater level of support to both internal and external clientele. Whether it’s reducing the need to contact and wait for the help desk by providing self-service options or significantly cutting down time (by up to 90%), the result is better adherence to SLAs.

Lower Costs – How much could a system outage cost your business? What about human errors? Or, how about the expenses associated with having to redo and provide perform for previous work? These can all be dramatically reduced and often eliminated completely by rolling out IT Process Automation.

For optimum results, IT operations should include automation as part of its best practices and implement it for as many processes and workflows as possible. Not only will operational expenses be reduced and contained, but business agility and overall service delivery will increase exponentially. This creates a highly efficient and cost-effective environment in which IT operations teams can not only survive through increasingly demanding times, but actually thrive.

Not sure where to start?

Check out the top 10 automated processes and see where your IT operations could benefit from a quality IT Process Automation software.

 





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate