In scaling enterprises, IT teams are often challenged with redundant workloads. These workloads range from small IT problems to technical problems that usually require help from subject matter experts (SMEs) or IT staff. However, when there are too many requests for problem-solving, the workload of IT teams folds up and results in bottlenecks and delays in business processes.
One way to solve this bottleneck in enterprises is the use of runbook automation. Runbook automation tools automate many business processes including incident management, maintenance, and service requests. This way, frequently faced problems or recurrent tasks are handled without help from SMEs while reducing manual commands.
Investing in runbook automation can help enterprises improve efficiency and flexibility in service delivery. In this article, we’ll go over 3 use cases of runbook automation and provide steps to create a runbook for an enterprise.
What is runbook automation?
A runbook refers to a guide that includes automated and manual steps to handle recurrent tasks in a system or process. Runbooks also consist of information that can contribute to solving problems. However, it does not include everything. Services are usually chosen from the best practices and the most faced incidents during IT operations.
Runbook automation is the management and execution of common tasks or workflow through automation. It is often used to automate IT incident management, IT maintenance, service requests, emergency protocols, and more specific tasks such as database backups or updating access permissions.
1. Reduce incident management costs.
Whether in large or medium size enterprises, IT incident management takes a long time. When more incidents happen at once, it often creates bottlenecks and clogs in business processes. If fixing a problem takes longer, incidents can turn into a larger crisis, disrupt service delivery, and cause time and money losses.
Runbook automation brings a solution to prevent crises caused by delays in incident management. Runbook automation streamlines IT operations by including non-technical employees in the incident management process. It provides the steps for solving widely faced IT problems without a need to create an IT support ticket.
While it allows them to solve their problems without waiting for support from IT teams, businesses reduce time and costs related to IT processes. However, runbook steps should be well-defined, accurate, and actionable for employees. Otherwise, it can cause confusion and distrust in runbook automation among employees.
2. Facilitate the maintenance of IT processes by automation.
Another function of Runbook automation is the maintenance of IT systems. As IT systems get complex, they require system updates and maintenance. However, manual updates in large companies turn into a challenge as clogs in updates interrupt the business processes, causing a decline in overall company performance.
Runbook automation helps with the maintenance of IT systems by automation. It automates recurrent tasks for system updates, daily data backups, and monitoring system performance.
Steps provided by the runbook automation should be actionable, directive, and easily accessible whenever they are needed by employees. If employees can’t find runbooks in a quick and easy way and do not understand which runbook is for what, they may not prefer to use them.
3. Minimize waiting times, prevent interruptions and protect employee productivity.
In an enterprise, service requests are a major part of operations and business processes. Employees may require various service requests depending on their departments. This may include how to set up a test environment or how to run a monthly report. However, waiting to get a response from concerned people may take time and interrupt employees’ workflow (see Figure 1). More waiting times mean less productivity.
With the help of runbook automation, enterprises can minimize waiting times, prevent interruptions and protect employee productivity. Besides, users can opt in or stay out of certain automated services. For example, while enterprises can open requests such as system updates and password resetting to each employee, requests regarding running monthly balance for a customer may only be permitted to the finance department.
Runbooks for service requests must be updated consistently and comply with recent regulations. A steady check for updates can help the automation work properly.
Figure 1: Interruptions before runbook automation
Should every runbook be automated?
This depends on the complexity and to what extent employees need certain requests. Some of the requests may require human assistance or approval and some others may be too complex to be automated. Thus, repetitive requests and time-consuming tasks such as password requests are highly advised to automate with a runbook.
To learn more about automation and orchestration, feel free to read our articles:
- 6 Ways Cloud Workload Automation Transforms Your Business
- 4 Ways to Improve Your Business with Self-Service Automation
- 4 Ways to Boost IT Operations with Event-Driven Automation
If you are looking for automation and orchestration tools, you can visit our hub for the automation software landscape.
If you have other questions about runbook automation, we can help:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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