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5 Persistent Pitfalls To Avoid When Planning An IT Automation Investment

News | David Butler-McAllister | July 2, 2018 | 1006 Words

There are certain “gotchas” you can have a laugh about afterwards — but not planning your IT automation implementation adequately, and implementing inefficient processes that might be adjusted or, even worse, redone later on probably isn’t one of those times. Today, we are going to explore five common pitfalls enterprise IT organizations often stumble over as they are planning their IT automation investments.

ITautomationPitfalls

Not Adequately Planning For Your IT Automation

Congratulations! Your executive management has bought-in and you finally have approval to start implementing IT automation! That’s wonderful. Now it’s time to get to implementing it as fast as possible to show results and prove ROI, right? Well, not so fast! This is the first IT automation pitfall a lot of organizations fall into.

It is a common misconception that the majority of the time spent on automating a task should be spent on building out the automation itself. However, without adequate due diligence (e.g., planning, scoping, and requirement gathering), you are going to be wasting your time (and company’s money) because the new automation will most likely be inefficient and might be built new down the road anyway.

As with any project, it is necessary to define clear goals, identify or dedicate specific resources, and map out what your streamlined business process should look like before you begin automating. Carefully map out workflows, communication streams, etc. to ensure automating is an optimized process. 

Over/Underestimating The Benefits Of Automation

One of the most common pitfalls we encounter is over- or underestimating the benefits of an automation solution.

On the one side, IT pros as well as leadership get carried away as they read marketing material that positions automation as some magic pill that will make all their problems go away. By overestimating its capabilities, you set yourself up for disappointment from the start. For example, I have had many conversations with potential customers that were looking to automate 100% of their application packaging right off the bat. But disappointment is short-lived when I explain that Access Capture can automate 60-80% of all your application packaging, but enables you to reduce the number of manually packaged apps over time as well as eliminate other app-related expanses and resources, so that it more than pays for itself.

On the flip side, if IT pros and leadership underestimate the power of IT automation, they either have unrealistic goals, or aren’t fully utilizing the potential of their solution and consequently are overpaying. Either way, it is critical to understand exactly what the solution you are planning to implement can and (maybe more importantly) cannot do.  

Automating Without The Bigger Picture In Mind

While it is critical to clearly define your IT automation goals, it is just as important to keep an open mind and think outside the box. It is all too easy to hyper-focus on a single to-be-automated IT task at hand without considering the bigger picture — for example, other processes or parts of the business that might be impacted or experience peripheral benefits from this automation job.

But what would happen if we approach IT automation with creativity and the desire to do more than just getting this job done? Often, automation will require us to rethink a process and the role of all resources involved. For example, by automating your application packaging testing, you will not only create a very detailed documentation but you will also have data that enables you to make more far-reaching decisions, such as retiring certain products because of functionality overlap or visualizing part of your application estate because you discovered that those apps are suitable.

To maximize the return on investment from your IT automation strategy, it helps to increase awareness and understanding among IT of how these IT processes fit into the larger picture as well as create more transparency between your team and business units. Keep in mind that, most commonly, these peripheral benefits are security, scalability, or efficiency-related, so focus on these areas.

Not Modernizing The Process Before Automating IT

While the before-mentioned oversights can have dire consequences, not updating a business process before automating it might be the worst of all — and, unfortunately, it is one of the most common as well.

Chances are that the process you are trying to automate wasn’t optimized from the start, but as you are moving towards continuous improvement through Evergreen IT, it is even more important that the to-be-automated process:

  • Isn’t seen as an isolated process anymore. Its input comes from another process or system and its output will flow as input somewhere else. Be careful to take the bigger picture into consideration and think outside the box on how to improve it.
  • Is secure and does not expose the organization in any way to cyber security threats.
  • Is optimized for speed and efficiency. Map it out on paper with all relevant parties first, and have an open communication about the actual business process first, before you think about how to implement it.

Not Planning On Changing It In The Future

Just as you should review your security protocols every quarter, you should reevaluate your automation on a regular basis. We always recommend that our customers see their biannual Windows 10 Servicing upgrades as a living and breathing process that allows you to hone and fine-tune your automation every single time.

But even besides this, your customers’ needs and requirements might change over time, so technology and organizational changes require updates to the automated process or eliminate the need for it all together. Therefore, it is important to keep documenting and reviewing periodically.

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