Which tasks can benefit the most from IT automation, and which are unsuitable?
You may have heard of IT automation as one of the top ways for businesses to improve their bottom line. Implemented correctly, IT automation can boost the productivity of your IT department, reduce downtime, and create a safer, less error-prone IT environment.
With such clear advantages, you may be wondering if this is the silver bullet that can solve all your IT problems. While it can’t solve everything, it is a top way to get the most out of your IT resources. With that in mind, it’s time to take a closer look at what IT automation is all about, and how can you use it for your business.
Benefits of IT Automation
Automation comes with several significant benefits. The most obvious are:
IT automation can accomplish complex workloads faster than an administrator, and at any time of day or night. The downside is that an error in the system can proliferate much faster, too. So while administrators will have to exercise great care in setting up the initial workflow, once the system is in place they have one less task to worry about.
IT administrators are only human. As such, it is all too easy for them to make an error while setting up a complex task, or conducting a routine operation. Meanwhile, an automated IT process can perform the same task indefinitely, exactly as it is given. However, this strategy requires extensive testing to ensure the process itself doesn’t have any errors in it.
When you’re no longer paying your IT professionals to perform repeatable, time-absorbing work, you free them to pursue strategic initiatives. This is a significant cost saver for your business, not only because your IT team is able to accomplish more work, but also because they can use the extra time to position your company for future success.
When to use IT Automation
With these benefits in mind, it’s important to recognize the caveat that not every IT task can be automated. Your IT team will need to identify and prioritize those most promising in terms of ROI. Here are some of the common, automation-friendly tasks your business should consider first:
Tasks that involve a significant number of steps in a process which have to be done in a specific, repeatable order are excellent candidates for automation. Tedious, repetitious tasks are also those most likely to suffer from user error.
The more frequently a task occurs, the greater the potential gains for automation. Even if it’s a small task that only takes ten minutes of your time, if those ten minutes occur every day, automation can provide significant time savings over the course of a year. This can also eliminate tasks that users are likely to postpone, such as security updates.
As we discussed in our recent post on breach detection, monitoring systems can protect your network by identifying suspicious behavior and alerting the proper personnel. If a system goes down or a network channel is breached, early detection and response are critical for containing the problem and restoring service as fast as possible.
When it comes to maintaining your data, automated backups can ensure that you never lose critical information because postponed, forgot, or neglected the regular backup. Instead, you can back up your data like clockwork, which will greatly aid the recovery process should you suffer an IT disaster.
Data crunching is a tedious, time-consuming task If ever there was one. And yet the information that can be gleaned from a performance report is exactly the high-quality insight that can help your business make smart decisions for the future. Automation can collect and collate the data you need so that you can more rapidly generate reports and see what’s happening with your system.
When not to use IT Automation
In spite of the many advantages of automated workflows, there are still many tasks which require manual human interaction and are unlikely to be replaced by automation. These include:
While it is possible to set up conditional automatic responses based on circumstances, this is a far cry from actual decision-making. You can create automated workflows, but you can’t automate the creation of those workflows. Similarly, you need your IT team to run tests of your automated processes to make sure they run as planned.
Actions performed only rarely.
IT automation of certain processes don’t always carry with it sufficient ROI to justify the expense of creating a workflow. This is especially true for tasks that are performed only infrequently. If it takes your IT specialist eight hours to automate the workflow for a task that only takes you half an hour once a month, there are probably better ways to allocate your resources.
Automation is a poor response to dealing with human beings, as anyone who has ever tried to make calls from a script knows. It’s hard to predict reactions, and no one likes dealing with a machine anyway. Automation can help your customer service department in other ways, such as by sorting through feedback and flagging complaints that need more attention. But it can’t replace human interaction.
Automation can be used to discover and deploy patches to a system, and to monitor the overall health of the system. But in the event of a true IT disaster, your IT professionals will need to be on the spot to assess the situation and respond accordingly.
Is your business ready to implement IT automation?
Overall, IT automation is a positive step toward improving the efficiency of your company. With fewer resources wasted on mindless busywork, your employees will be able to divert their energy toward forward-thinking initiative.
If you would like to work with an IT team that can assess your current system and identify areas of potential automation, contact us. We can work with you as your IT service team, or we can work alongside your current team to deliver cost-saving IT solutions to your business. Contact us today to get started.