While you may already recognize the benefits of leveraging IT process automation for your business, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the most out of this important tool. The truth is with so many different options available, many organizations end up trying to do too much and failing as a result. Let’s take a look at some of the more common challenges of automation as well as some tips and best practices for finding the right solution for your business.
One of the biggest hurdles IT professionals must overcome when it comes to implementing an automation strategy is the number of tools they’re using. Oftentimes the very technology that is designed to improve efficiency and reduce errors can have the opposite effect if there are too many tools working together – or against each other. In fact, according to research by Gartner, 75% of large enterprises are expected to have more than four diverse automation technologies within their IT management portfolio by the year 2017. That’s up from 20% in 2014.
The problem comes into play when automation is approached from an individual departmental point of view, rather than a solution that ties the entire infrastructure together. Each team brings their own needs to the table and focuses on developing an automated solution for those needs, creating a disjointed strategy that segregates silos and keeps them separate. Instead of relying on different tools and remedies for each area, businesses should be focusing on more universal solutions that can help in all areas of the business at once.
Another challenge surrounding IT process automation today is the way the technology is being utilized. When automation is only being used for scripting, as many organizations are currently doing, the full functionality and potential of the technology is not being realized. What’s more, because of the detailed work that goes into designing workflows, if just one step or input is missed, the results will be less than satisfactory. IT process automation of the future must be more robust and sophisticated.
Tips and Best Practices
Establish Roles – The first step in successfully automating your IT functions is to establish who will take what roles in the process. This will help to get the ball rolling on identifying what needs to be automated and how to best accomplish those goals. You can either transition existing employees into these roles or hire them externally. Common titles will include automation managers, system administrators, automation architects and automation specialists. Figure out what you need and go from there.
Identify Needs – The next step involves conducting an inventory to determine what tasks and workflows can and should be automated. This will typically begin with existing scripts, whether they happen to be command scripts or file transfer scripts in such programs as Windows, PHP, Unix or Ruby on Rails. Once you’ve identified all the scripts your company uses, you can then focus on finding a uniform solution for all of them.
Purge – When conducting your inventory, don’t be afraid to retire old scripts that are either not being used or can be better managed another way. Once you’ve done away with those scripts that aren’t worth automating, you’ll have a cleaner list of those that are worth expanding on and improving.
Shop Around – You want your IT process automation strategy to be wildly successful, right? Well, this involves doing your homework and shopping around. Make sure you’re looking for the right quality solution, specifically a mature and robust tool that offers a return on your investment. That shiny new automation tool that was just developed may appear to have all the bells and whistles to get the job done, but given its age, it will likely undergo a great deal of changes and tweaks, costing you more in the long run. Rather than simple scripts, look for IT process automation tool that offer greater overall value.
Seek Cohesiveness – As mentioned above, many businesses struggle with automation because they have too many tools working against each other. Recognize that some automation tools may actually – albeit unintentionally – cause more harm than good. Look for tools that complement your other systems and can be easily integrated, rather than those that compete and ultimately disrupt the flow of things.
Weigh and Study – Once you’ve narrowed down your options, carefully weigh the service and benefits each tool will present to your organization. Also, study the workflow of each prospective solution. This can help you determine which option would best suit your particular business needs.