Five Tips for the Automation Journey
Automation is a journey, not a destination—businesses grow, change, acquire—so let’s embrace the fact the job is never done! If you automate for a single point in time, you won’t be prepared to handle the changes along the way.
Tip #1: Find Success Stories
The thing about automation is that you are selling change. Change in how you operate, do business, or manage your systems is really hard for some staff members to accept. Fighting your own team’s resistance to change will be the primary obstacle to automation. Try looking for stories you can share with your team about the positive impact of automation. If done properly, automating computer systems will enhance careers, reduce errors, increase productivity, and save money.
Tip #2: Build a List
Teams often get caught up in paralysis by analysis if they don’t divide and conquer on automation projects. It may look too big if you don’t go through the exercises of making smaller, more digestible projects within the big opportunity. It helps to build a list of items you want to automate, and then break it down into smaller to-do items. The list will help your team compartmentalize and prioritize the tasks ahead. Be sure to assign a scope, priority, and degree of difficulty to each task so you can help identify the steps along the way.
Tip #3: Make Items Easy to Inherit
Enter rules that are repeatable with little change from your team. Your goal in automation is to have a solution that is maintainable yet robust enough that you don’t have to babysit the software each day making changes. For instance, build a schedule that doesn’t required manually modifying parameters for dates. The software should be able to pass dates into your applications or scripts without you entering, and rules should not be so complicated that the next person cannot understand what you have done.
Tip #4: Manage the Exceptions from the Rules You Enter
We are all too busy to see all of the details, so build in rules that pinpoint the exceptions. Many companies have tried to build monolithic correlation event solutions that look at all the events and then try to simulate/determine the problem from across the entire network. Instead, build your server monitoring and enterprise scheduling such that the process running or the event occurring has rules in place to notify the correct teams or even launch scripts that automate the events.
Tip #5: Stay Granular with Your Rules
Most automation software will have a database that stores the rules you create. The more rules, the more automation—and the more granular, the better the opportunity to rerun a process, report on a process, or react to a process. Granular rules are more agile, making it easier on the systems administration team to make changes down the road, while monolithic rules create a single point of failure that is very costly if modified incorrectly.
Remember, by selling change, breaking down the project, entering rules, managing by exception, and keeping the rules granular, you’ll wind up with a successful project.