8 IT automation mistakes to avoid

8 IT automation mistakes to avoid

Where do IT teams go wrong as they automate more processes? CIOs and automation experts share lessons learned

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February 08, 2018

5. Failing to establish a governance process

Automation does not excuse CIOs and their teams from responsibility; while you’ll commonly hear people tout automation as a means of reducing human error or manual effort, that doesn’t mean your systems are now infallible. You need a governance plan for handling issues, even with increasing automation in your development cycle.

“As CIOs, we share a deep responsibility to promote accountability and prevent major disasters before they occur,” Nagrath says. “Proper governance helps ensure you have the right people involved at the right times, to drive desired outcomes.”

6. Expecting too much in the first few weeks

Automation may increase efficiency, enable your people to take on higher-order work as they automate away painful manual tasks, and so forth. But one of the most common mistakes Bruno Attore, CTO and co-founder at Uru, has seen in his career is the assumption that automation is synonymous with easy – especially early in your implementation.

As we said out the outset, mistakes happen; just don’t make the mistake of assuming this will be a breeze. Expect some trial-and-error as you iterate and optimize.

“If you are transitioning from a pure manual operations and QA process to an automated one, the first few weeks will be hard,” Attore says. “It's important not to give up and keep pushing forward. In the end, everyone needs to know that this is not a flip of a switch, but instead, a continuous process that will only get better and better.”

7. Ignoring culture

Similar to how automation isn’t a panacea for flawed processes, it’s not going to magically reboot a staid IT culture rooted in manual work, rigid silos, and the like. In other words: Automation won’t do you a whole lot of good if you’re just papering over an otherwise unchanged organization.

“Implementing automation requires more than applying scripts to operations – it requires a change in culture,” says Eric Anderson, DevOps system architect at Avi Networks. “Since automation means viewing operations as code, there is a lot that can be borrowed from the Agile methodology of software development. Agile applies new organizational structure and processes. Without applying similar structure and processes to automation, most organizations will fail.”

[ Download our related resource, The Open Organization Workbook: How to build a culture of innovation in your organization. ]

8. Treating automation like a to-do list item

As any to-do list junkie can tell you, there’s a modest amount of joy in crossing something off: I’m done.

Automation lends itself to that kind of thinking; you automate a process or set of processes, and you’re done. It’s automatic! But you’re setting yourself up for pain later, and missed opportunities, too.

“Let me be the first to tell you, automation is not a one-and-done experience,” Nagrath says. “It’s part of a continuous improvement plan. I’ve learned that sometimes it takes a given process to be automated to shine a light on the next opportunity for improvement.”

Automation is a method of problem-solving. Done right, that method never stops.

“My father used to tell me: ‘Often, the solution to your problem just highlights your next problem,’” Nagrath says. “So, my last word of guidance to the other CIOs out there: As you continue to automate, be prepared to uncover the next issue. If you’re measuring and re-engineering along the way, feel confident and go for it.”

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