Article

The 10 Principles of Automation

IBM i
Posted:
January 31, 2017

 

While Robot automation software helps you manage your systems no matter how you use it, there are tried-and-true ways to achieve extraordinary automation results. If you run your data center based on these principles, you’re in for a whole bunch of benefits.

You’ll increase productivity by empowering your team to do more while building their skills and improving their quality of life. You’ll eliminate errors by handing off the routine responsibilities to automation applications. You’ll pass audits with ease, reduce operational costs, deploy and adapt to new technology more quickly, and consistently fulfill service-level agreements.

To get these results—on IBM i or any other platform—you must follow these 10 principles.

10. Manage by Exception

More than 95 percent of the events operators see are not important—they have nothing to do with service-level agreements; they’re simply nice to know. Emphasize console consolidation and rely on rules to filter out normal information and events to free up time for more productive work.

9. Eliminate Run Books and Manual Procedures

Automation lets you replace manual procedures with online rules. When there are critical dates, business cutoffs, or numbers of copies that someone must input interactively, use variables to enter dynamic dates in a call statement or interactive panel. If night processing is too complicated, use custom scripting language to check for object locks, active jobs, or active subsystems to ensure you can run night processes without interfering with end users.

8. More Rules, More Automation

Keep your automation efforts granular for more flexibility. To satisfy demands from their user community, even fully automated shops make changes to their automation software, often daily. They are constantly creating automation rules to keep up with their business. You can modify your rules interactively, without worrying about whether each shift has seen your latest changes.

7. Build Exception-Based Notification

Notify the right people, and only when there’s a problem. With a network monitoring solution, you can monitor remote systems from a central location and send notification automatically by email, SNMP, text, and voice. By implementing a message management product on each system, you can screen messages and send only the most important ones to the central host.

6. Automate SLAs

Use automation to place rules for monitoring critical SLAs. Even if the rest of the company doesn’t really understand what the data center does, you can be the dark horse who drives business forward with automation. Eliminate manual checks, increase system availability, and consistently deliver on SLAs. Once the data center is automated, you can look outside your department for more opportunities.

5. Put Automation in Your Job Title

If automation is part of your job description, you’ll think more about how it can improve operations. IT today is about deploying applications and making things as efficient as possible. Automating computer systems allows your company to move talented staff to other areas. Technically, you’re all automation managers. Your seniority comes from moving the company ahead with technology that brings dollars to the bottom line.

4. Empower Your Operators

Work with your operators to build automation rules. Operators are resources that should not be ignored. You trust them at night when no one is around, and you’ll find that they know exactly what needs to be done. They can save their companies thousands of dollars by deploying automation applications. When you have people who believe in automation, watch out! A fired-up team of operators can automate a lot of manual tasks.

3. Keep It Simple

If it sounds difficult, it probably is. To get a simpler solution, step back and talk to others who have done it before. Automation happens with small steps, not big leaps. Start by automating your mundane tasks, the low-hanging fruit. Get the simple things out of the way to show your management team success early on and make yourself more valuable to your company.

2. Keep an Automation List

Make a running list of tasks that need to be automated. Human error sets in when we leave it to memory. There’s no need to take the all-or-nothing approach to automation. Break down the process into manageable parts and set aside the impossible. Something new may come along later that helps you automate the really messy processes, provided you remember to check your list.

1. Train Developers on Automation

Some development and network teams don’t worry about who is going to run or execute new tasks; they just give it to Operations. In an ideal world, Operations would be involved in all new development projects, asking the question, “How can we run this unattended?” Automating IT is everyone’s business. If your developers know how automation tools work, they can help write scripts to automate processes.

Best practices in automation are about being exception-based. The more rules you have in place, the more automation you’ll have and the fewer tasks you’ll have to do. Start exercising these principles in your data center today. If you need products that help you enter rules and kick start your automation goals, contact us to request a free trial of Robot systems management solutions.

 

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