Establish a Successful IT Automation Strategy in 8 Steps in '24
IT automation trends show ∼90% of IT leaders value automation technologies in their operations. Yet, ∼70% of the leaders remain hesitant to deploy it due to the complexity of system design and build. 1
A solid IT automation strategy can overcome such concerns. IT automation strategy is a planned approach or framework for implementing and utilizing automation technologies within an organization’s IT infrastructure. It involves systematically identifying, evaluating, and implementing automation tools and techniques to automate and streamline IT operations, improve efficiency, and enhance overall productivity.
Therefore, this article provides a guideline to help businesses develop an effective IT automation strategy.
1- Define your goals
The first step is clearly defining the objectives and expected outcomes your organization aims to achieve. These goals serve as guiding principles and provide direction for the automation strategy.
When defining goals, organizations should consider their unique business needs and challenges. The goals may vary depending on the organization’s specific business processes, requirements and priorities. Here are some common goals that most organizations often strive to achieve:
- Reducing manual effort: One primary goal is to minimize manual tasks and repetitive processes. Organizations can free up valuable time and resources by automating routine tasks, allowing employees to focus on more strategic and value-added activities.
- Improving service quality: Automation standardizes complex processes and enforces best practices to improve IT services’ quality and consistency. Automation can also enable proactive monitoring and remediation, improving service availability, faster response times, and enhanced customer experience.
- Increasing system availability: Another goal is to achieve 24/7 availability for routine maintenance tasks, backups, and system checks to reduce downtime, minimize disruptions, and enhance system resilience.
2- Evaluate processes
Process evaluation helps organizations identify processes and tasks suitable for automation. During the process evaluation, several factors are taken into consideration:
- Repetitive Tasks: The evaluation focuses on identifying tasks that are performed repeatedly within the IT operations (e.g. data entry, patch management, and troubleshooting). These tasks are often prime candidates for automation as they consume valuable time and resources when done manually.
- Time-consuming processes: IT processes that are time-consuming or involve multiple manual steps are prime candidates for automation. Some examples include manual software installation or testing.
- Error-prone activities: Processes that are prone to human errors can benefit greatly from automation. For example, automating the software deployment process minimizes the risk of errors, ensuring greater accuracy and consistency.
- Resource-intensive operations: By automating tasks that require significant human effort or specialized skills, organizations can better allocate their resources and reduce dependency on specific individuals, resulting in a more scalable and efficient IT environment. Some of these operations contain data analytics, virtualization, deploying machine learning models or running artificial intelligence algorithms.
3- Choose the right tool
68% of IT professionals find it time-consuming and difficult to identify and employ an IT automation tool because the IT automation technologies landscape is complex, with multiple tools and various vendors with distinct capabilities and features. For example, some solutions leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide low-code/no-code platforms to users. The most preferred tools for IT automation include:
- Business process automation (BPA) like
- IT orchestration tools and SOAPs including
- Test Automation tools
Tips: Check out vendor benchmarks to shortlist tools based on your specific needs, ease of integration to your systems, and scalability. Discover top vendors in the market with our comprehensive and objective IT automation software benchmarking. For more, check out our data-driven lists:
4. Provide training and change management
Providing adequate training and support is critical to a successful IT automation strategy. Organizations must ensure that IT teams and stakeholders receive the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively utilize and manage automation solutions. Additionally, addressing resistance to change and fostering a culture that embraces automation is key to a smooth transition and long-term adoption of automation technology across the entire enterprise. Here’s a closer look at the importance of training, change management, and effective communication:
- Training on automation tools and workflows: Employees need training on the specific tools and technologies being implemented to effectively leverage automation. Training programs should cover topics such as tool functionalities, workflow design, and best practices for automation. By providing comprehensive training, organizations empower their IT teams to confidently use automation tools, create and maintain workflows, and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
- Change management and addressing resistance to change: Automation initiatives often introduce changes to established business processes and workflows. Change management activities are essential to address resistance to change and ensure a smooth transition. This includes communicating the benefits of automation to stakeholders, involving them in the decision-making process, and addressing their concerns. By proactively managing change, organizations can build buy-in, alleviate fears, and foster a positive attitude toward automation.
- Effective communication and stakeholder engagement: Communication plays a crucial role in the success of automation initiatives. Clear and frequent communication about the goals, progress, and benefits of automation helps create awareness and understanding among stakeholders. Engaging stakeholders early in the process, seeking their input, and addressing their feedback fosters a sense of ownership and collaboration. Regular updates, meetings, and forums for discussion and sharing of experiences can further strengthen communication channels.
- User feedback mechanisms: Establishing user feedback mechanisms allows organizations to gather insights and continuously improve automation solutions. By encouraging users to provide feedback on their experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement, organizations can refine workflows, address usability issues, and enhance the overall user experience. Feedback mechanisms can include surveys, focus groups, or designated feedback channels where users can share their thoughts and recommendations.
Tips: Involve employees and stakeholders early in the process and address their concerns to mitigate resistance to change.
5- Design a workflow
Design an automated workflow by mapping out the sequence of tasks, dependencies, and decision points. Invest time to understand the desired automation process and how new tools and systems will interact. To achieve this, you might need to bring relevant stakeholders together.
A well-designed workflow ensures that automation processes are streamlined, predictable, and aligned with business objectives.
Tips: You can also benefit from process intelligence technologies such as task mining, process mining and digital twin of an organization (DTOs) to design and simulate ideal workflows based on real-life data.
6- Keep an eye on integration & orchestration
While automating your IT ops, consider chances of orchestration and integration to ensure efficient workflows, and seamless communication and data exchange.
- Integration: Ensure integrating different components of your IT infrastructure.
- APIs and connectors: Leverage APIs and connectors accelerates the integration effort, reduces development time, and promotes interoperability between different IT systems.
- Middleware and integration platforms: Middleware and integration platforms act as intermediaries, enabling the seamless exchange of data and messages between disparate systems. You can build robust and scalable integration solutions with them.
- IT orchestration: IT orchestration involves coordinating and managing the execution of automated processes across multiple systems and applications. It ensures that tasks are executed in the desired sequence, dependencies are managed, and data flows smoothly between different stages of the automation workflow. Orchestration enables end-to-end automation by integrating various systems and applications into a cohesive and synchronized process.
7- Test and validate
After the first implementation, test and validate the effectiveness and reliability of your IT automation efforts. Validation involves comparing the outputs of automated processes with the expected results to ensure accuracy and consistency.
Here’s a detailed expansion on the importance of testing and validation in an automation strategy:
- Comprehensive test scenarios: Develop comprehensive test scenarios that cover various use cases that simulate real-world conditions to proactively identify and address any issues, errors or bottlenecks in manual processes that may arise during automation.
- Issue identification and troubleshooting: Test the automated process to uncover any issues or errors that may arise during the execution of this process and address them promptly.
- Validation of outputs: Compare the results produced by the automation workflows with the expected outcomes or known reference data to detect any discrepancies or inconsistencies.
- Fine-tuning and optimization: Fine-tune the workflows, address any shortcomings and optimize the automation solution to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and overall performance. Regular testing and validation help in continually refining the automation workflows to ensure they meet the desired objectives.
8- Monitor and maintain for continuous improvement
Continuous improvement involves the ongoing evaluation and enhancement of automation initiatives to drive greater efficiency, effectiveness, and value. Therefore, organizations must implement monitoring mechanisms to provide visibility into the execution of automation workflows and regular maintenance activities, such as updating automation scripts, resolving errors, and adapting to changing business needs.
This way, organizations can track key performance indicators (KPIs), identify deviations or errors, and take corrective actions promptly. They can optimize their automation efforts and maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving business and technology landscape.
Here are some key aspects to consider while implementing continuous improvement:
- Establish feedback loops: Engage users, stakeholders, and IT teams for valuable insights and feedback on automation workflows, optimizing processes based on their input.
- Identifying optimization areas: Analyze feedback to pinpoint bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas lacking desired outcomes, prioritizing optimization efforts accordingly.
- Refining automation workflows: Continuously fine-tune workflows by adjusting task sequences, incorporating additional automation steps, and improving error handling mechanisms.
- Conduct performance analysis and benchmarking: Measure KPIs, compare performance against industry standards, and identify areas for further improvement.
- Process reviews and new opportunities: Regularly review existing processes, identifying new areas suitable for automation as business needs evolve.
- Cultivating a culture of continuous improvement: Foster an environment that encourages feedback, idea-sharing, and employee participation to sustain a culture of continuous improvement.
Tips: Set measure targets while defining your goal to track progress, evaluate the success of automation projects and enable data-driven decision-making. These targets can include metrics like the percentage of tasks automated, reduction in human errors and improved service-level agreements (SLAs).
Explore more on IT automation by reading out:
- Top 60+ IT Automation Use Cases
- Top 10 IT Automation Trends
- Top 12 IT Automation Software: Vendor Benchmarking
If you believe you are ready to move to second step and choose an IT automation tool, then check out our comprehensive and data-driven lists:
- IT Automation software
- Batch scheduling software
- Data warehouse automation tools
- Service orchestration and automation platforms
- Enterprise job scheduler
If you need more help, let us know:
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