So your company has implemented various software applications to complete necessary tasks – great! But while that technology has helped the business streamline specific processes, you’ve recently noticed that not everything works together as it should. Departments have stopped communicating effectively, and the workflows are either at direct odds or unrelated to each other.
In short, the IT services you thought would be magical solutions have become siloed, unresponsive, and prevent your business from scaling as it should. And while you thought the software would help with automation, your company now realizes that it wasn’t implemented with a comprehensive vision for the entire company.
As you’ve learned, a short-sighted plan can’t and won’t solve all of your problems. Luckily, automation can still come to the rescue for your IT services, courtesy of this nine-step process:
- Define precisely what you want to accomplish
- Position the value of automation
- Determine the manual tasks to be automated
- Identify the integration points in your business processes
- Design the new workflow(s)
- Develop your new IT infrastructure and architecture
- Create the implementation strategy and timeline
- Test, test, and test some more
- Implement clear change management guidelines
Now is not the time to set aside your previous attempts to automate your workplace and adopt this approach.
Why Would You Want to Automate Your IT Services?
Don’t worry if you haven’t started the automation process of your IT functions.You can build everything fresh from the start! When executed correctly, investing in IT automation becomes a sizable boon to your company. You will gain the following benefits:
- Lower costs
- Increased efficiency
- Enhanced workflows
- Better data
- Transparent reports
- Reduced errors
With automation, you’re letting computer programs complete daily, repeatable, and manual tasks formerly handled by humans. It streamlines collecting and collating data so that your people have more time to analyze the data to make informed business decisions.
1. Define Clear Goals and Expectations
While this concept holds true for any project, you’d be surprised at how many people forget this step. If you want to make a significant technological change to your business, you must create specific aims and guidelines for what needs to happen. While each project is different — because each company’s needs and requirements are different — we do recommend starting with a few standard benchmarks:
- Timeframe of the work
- Improvements needed (Scope)
- Contingency Plan
- Current State vs. Future State processes
- Integrations in scope
- Stakeholder roles & responsibilities
2. Position the Benefits of Automation
Because this work won’t be completed in a vacuum, you need to talk about it. Promote it. Share with people exactly why it needs to happen. Even if you know that automation will improve the IT functions across your company, it doesn’t mean everyone will implicitly understand what’s happening. We suggest a three-pronged strategy.
- Leadership needs to know your plans so they can approve budgets, inform investors, and create internal and external messaging about the project.
- The IT team will operate best with definitive outlines and processes for what is expected of them and what they need to achieve.
- Each employee who will interact with the improved system must also understand the purpose of the changes in non-technical terms.
3. Determine the Work and Timing
You can best accomplish this task when you complete step #1. If you know what you want to see happen, you can decide what needs to be automated and why. You should focus on tasks that occur on a regularly scheduled basis — especially if they’re daily — and can be corrupted by even minor human error.
From there, you should assign a project manager to develop the specific steps and processes each group should take to complete the project. The better clarity you have into the big-picture strokes of the plan, the more equipped you are to handle the day-to-day details and work through any complications that might arise.
4. Identify the Integration Points
Automation is effective when it brings together your entire business and addresses your comprehensive needs. You must approach your IT services in a holistic manner that breaks down the walls between teams and departments. Your automation efforts should pursue opportunities for synthesis such as:
- Data allocation
- Data distribution
- Analytical assignments
- Reporting structures
5. Design Better Workflows
You’ve identified why and where automation will help, so now it’s time to create the “how.” Automation is only as effective as the people building the workflows. This concept is accurate even if you’re investing in artificial intelligence that can learn from past work and help you make decisions about future tasks. You must craft deliberate programming that tells the automation exactly how it will work to see real success.
6. Develop an Enhanced Infrastructure
Once you complete this initial work, you need to ensure your business can access the necessary hardware, software, and customer support to support your automation. We endorse consulting with trusted IT outsourcing experts who will critically examine your current capabilities and provide a bank of recommendations on how to proceed.
7. Install the Automation on a Timeline
Now that you have prepared all of the relevant elements, you need to get everything up and running. Use the schedule created in step #3 to hold everyone accountable for both the work to be done and the dues date for completion.
8. Test. Test Again. Test More.
You should spend considerable time on this step if you want to guarantee success with your automation efforts. Yes, you are asking supposedly infallible technology to complete rote data collection and sorting tasks for you. Still, the humans who created the workflows, programming, and integrations are prone to error.
Again, this is the point of automation — to avoid mistakes — but you can only get there through repetitive and systematic testing that weeds out the blunders. Studies have shown that faulty programming can cause tremendous errors because of the scale at which automation occurs. Thus, you must rigorously test your work to ensure a reliable and secure IT stack.
9. Implement Change Management
Congratulations! You have successfully upgraded and improved the quality of automation for your company’s IT services. You have one task remaining, and it’s a doozy that hearkens back to step #2: tell everyone about the improvements and how they should interact with the systems. Effective change management includes the following:
- Deliver clear communication about what happened
- Share transparent guidelines on how to use the system
- Develop precise methods for improving the automation regularly
Deliver Better IT Services with Increased Automation
The benefits of automation to any company in a data-heavy industry are readily apparent. You need to collect and collate large chunks of information efficiently. And since it’s time-consuming work that’s prone to slip-ups, it’s work best left in the hands of machines that can’t create those problems. However, you could also set up your IT systems for failure if you don’t produce defined tactics, strategies, and workflows.
If you’re in the market for either introducing or increasing the automation of your company’s IT services, then you should talk to EAG 1Source today. Our experienced IT professionals use time-tested methods to analyze your current capabilities, offer helpful solutions, and monitor your systems after the automation goes live. We also counsel your leadership on how to support your IT operations now and into the future so you can scale up your automation as needed.