7 Keys to an Effective IT Automation Strategy
Many simple Business Processes can be automated.
Complex Process Automation is possible with the right framework. Follow our guidelines for the best IT process automation strategy.
Keyword(s): IT Process Automation
Are you looking to increase automation in your business?
You can automate many simple tasks with the help of technology, from operations to marketing to payroll. You can also set up complex process automation too. Not only does this save you and your employees valuable time for other projects, but it can also save you money.
But if you're new to process automation, it can seem daunting. You might not even know where to start. Or the best way to proceed, as automation is something you want to get right from the start.
Don't worry, we're here to help! Keep reading this IT process automation guide for a successful IT automation process.
1. Work Out What's Possible
Most companies already have at least some basic tasks automated. But if you don't, work out what basic tasks you can use IT process automation for and start there.
A lot of businesses look to AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and RPA. They're capable of more complex, sophisticated re-engineering of processes. But everyone in the company must be aware of what's possible. Most important in this are the heads of departments and senior executives.
You don't want the higher-ups or your fellow departments expecting the impossible. At best, they'll only be set up for disappointment. At worst, your process automation team has the task of achieving the impossible.
So, remember that a lot of people outside of IT don't understand the complexities. For them, they press some buttons and it works, simple. They don't know the background processes. Or what actually goes into the programming that allows complex actions to function.
Have a single person leading the automation process so the information remains consistent. One go-to person is more cohesive and it'll help keep requests and questions organized.
Have them set out the scope of what's possible in your company, and what benefits this will bring. Get ready to answer any questions and explain what's not possible. This will give other key staff members confidence that everything is in hand.
2. Show the Benefits of Automation
A huge benefit of IT process automation is the competitive edge it brings. It increases the efficiency of your business, which lowers your costs. Staff members also have time freed up for other, higher-level tasks that grow your business. They can focus on generating more profit.
Not everyone will be on board for automation though, it can seem scary to some. People might think it'll upset the status quo, and that things are fine the way they are. Others will worry it'll take away jobs, fearing for their job security. Some might think it'll cost too much money, and the returns won't be there or it won't solve any problems.
At every stage, point out the benefits of automation for each project. It's a good idea to have the first project boost the morale of staff. Take the process automation software rollout for example to show how this can cut back longer hours and the need to stay late after work.
3. Understand the Targeted Process in Full
Automation is about modernizing and optimizing a process to be more efficient. Before you can automate, you need to understand a process in full as it exists now. Your IT teams need to work alongside other departments to understand what they do and how they do it.
Work out what its necessary steps are and where the bottlenecks are. Can the process adjust as new requirements come up? This knowledge will be vital if you want to take automation to the next level.
It'll help if you have a list of steps for each process you wish to automate. Have each company department put together a flowchart of their processes broken down for you step by step. Then, have your IT team sit down and go through them in detail so they know the exact process inside out.
It's how you go from simple improvements to proper process transformations. Automation technology, when done right, can make a serious transformation to a process. You'll see huge differences you couldn't achieve without it.
4. Get Your Back End Systems Updated
Once you've automated the simple processes you might want to go further. There might be some tasks that you think you can automate but need logical flows and criteria.
You can't automate processes that need intelligent decision-making with old systems. For example, outdated databases or, god forbid excel spreadsheets.
To automate these more complex tasks, you need things like:
*Cloud computing or integrated data storage
*APIs (application programming interfaces)
*Advanced data analytics
*Automation capable AI and systems
Automation works best when your infrastructure supports data transfer and integration between systems. Although it may be possible to integrate your older systems, this is a false economy.
The costs and problems can add up fast. This is especially true if you need integrations between many distinct systems. More up-to-date infrastructure will also be easier to support, and more reliable too.
5. Don't Automate Until You Re-Imagine the Workflow
If you want to see the biggest difference, you need to understand each process beforehand. But, you also need to find ways of improving that process further as you automate it.
While you will see the benefits of automating specific actions, it's not always the best way. For the biggest results, you need to re-imagine the entire workflow of the process. Are there any efficiency savings you can make from the start before you think of automating it?
You'll find a lot of processes completed the way they are because it's the way the company always did it. Remember the saying, "if it's not broke, don't fix it". But this doesn't mean this is the most optimized way to get the process done.
Look for unnecessary steps that you can take out or ways to reduce the number of steps needed. You want an optimized, streamlined process before you can think of how you'll automate it. The more optimized it is, the easier automation will be to integrate.
If you don't optimize at the start, you could reinforce those inefficiencies and lock them in. Sure, you'll still increase productivity and free up staff time. But you may reduce the value your automation project actually adds in the long run.
6. Manage the Changes
You're going to need a strong and solid change management strategy. Change is never easy, but your automation processes will affect almost every employee. You need to help them adjust to the new workflow process, not reject it.
For employees that don't understand IT and how it works, they're scared of automation. They fear that it's coming to replace them, and they'll lose their jobs. But while it's true sometimes, automation doesn't always mean job losses.
What it can do is focus their attention on high-value work and free up their time. They can work on new initiatives to further the company and generate more profit. Technology opens up new opportunities for success that they can make use of.
Some employees know how to understand and use their new workflows, so they can adjust. It'll be less scary if they know how this automation actually affects their daily roles. Make them feel included and give them the power of knowledge. This will be a key part of whether your automation integration is successful.
7. Don't Let a Desire For Perfection Slow You Down
When it comes to how to automate processes, don't seek perfection before you move on. In an ideal world, you'll get the perfect, most optimized automated workflow the first time. But the world often isn't ideal, and that's not how things work.
There's going to be some level of tweaking involved, and real-world testing is needed. You'll need to fiddle for the best optimization and to see what steps you can further reduce/ remove.
When you plan your automation projects, you'll need a detailed timeline. It's important that you keep to it, and even if a task isn't as optimized as it could be, don't let it stall you. You'll still see huge ROIs, even if it isn't perfect. It's either perfection or efficiency at the start, but the time for perfecting will come later.
Make your efficiency savings at the start, and have your IT teams revisit these projects. Have your short-term goals which should be streamlining and automating processes efficiently. Then, your long-term goals should be to optimize them to the best they can be later.
IT Process Automation Made Easy
So, there you have it! Now you know these 7 tips to follow, your process automation is sure to be a success.
For a smooth process, outsource your automation to a managed IT service provider. They have experience and training in IT automation to find the best solutions for you.
The best part in outsourcing your automation needs to experts is you get the peace of mind that the right people are on the job, without the stress of managing the process yourself.
If you're looking to automate your business processes, contact us today. At Bridgehead I.T we've got the skills and experience to help you with all your IT service and automation needs.
Are you looking to increase automation in your business?