According to a recent report by Gartner, organizations are experiencing challenges in their automation journeys that are preventing them from delivering targeted automated solutions.
These challenges include:
- Attempting automations not in-line with the organization’s automation maturity
- Focusing on automation tools instead of developing the skillsets, right processes, and best practices for automation
- Becoming overwhelmed with the sheer ability of automation to improve so many areas of the business, to the point that teams struggle to identify where to start automating without a defined strategy or controlled approach
While all of these challenges need to be addressed, the best place to start identifying which areas of your business to automate is by looking at the areas that will drive the highest ROI. Gartner suggests the following 5 key areas for automation as having the greatest probability of being successful in returning tangible, recurring value:
1. Provisioning and Orchestration
Provisioning and orchestration should be the first area of the business that RPA teams strive to automate for two key reasons:
- It’s an area that has a direct impact on the customer experience
- Provisioning and orchestration processes can be relatively simple to automate
The objective should be to automate as many of the manual tasks in the master provisioning process as possible to streamline the customer journey and eliminate lead times. To that end, self-service portals can be easily implemented with service request management tools like ServiceNow or Remedy and then connected with back-end provisioning tools.
The result is relatively simple automations with significant returns in the form of an improved customer experience, removing manual tasks to allow employees to focus on more value-added activities, and increased bandwidth to handle more demand.
2. Change and Asset Management
Automation success is contingent on understanding the resources you have in the environments you want to automate. Organizations should have a centralized inventory of all the resources they have in their enterprise architecture according to the following four buckets:
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)/PaaS (Platform as a Service)
- SaaS (Software as a Service)
Automating the distribution and removal of enterprise tools in a unified, centralized manner is crucial before automating anything else. You need to know your environments before you can automate them.
3. Configuration Management and Patching
Environment uptime is a major infrastructure and operations (I&O) element that occupies all enterprise SysOps teams. Pushing out patches, upgrades, and configuration changes leave the organization vulnerable to damaging downtime when mistakes are made.
Automating patch delivery, software upgrades, and configuration changes remove the probability of error that leads to outages. When automation is successful for configuration management and patching, the organization also reinforces its security and uptime for continued and future business. It also fosters trust in automation that leads to more investment.
Monitoring is another key I&O function that is a failsafe to limit and minimize downtime. Gartner argues that an essential element of monitoring positioned for automation success is the triaging and gathering of information normally performed by employees.
This ensures that the professionals who need and use the information that is automatically gathered agree on the required data. It also provides that the individuals who need to interpret that information have the best context available to them. This allows teams to respond quickly to issues that trigger alerts and also provides a giant leap towards proactive monitoring.
5. Security and Governance
There are universal enterprise security and governance processes that are relatively simple to automate and deliver immediate returns tied to automation success. User onboarding and offboarding (for example, password complexity, password expiration, user access auditing, and account locking) should be the first areas of focus for automation because of their ability to enhance security and provide quick wins for the organization.
For governance, compliance auditing should be the initial focus of automation teams to deliver automation success. Automating compliance activities not only removes mundane and repetitive tasks from employees; it also reduces the risk of human error that is a significant cause of non-compliance.
In their report, How to Start Executing a Successful Automation Strategy, Gartner provides a more detailed analysis into each area of I&O processes that should be targeted for automation success in addition to other vital insights like how to simplify your tooling portfolio.