HelpSystems Blog

7 Misconceptions About Automation

You’re probably familiar with some of the most common phobias, like arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), but what about fear of the unknown?

If you’ve been putting in the extra hours and energy doing manual operations since the AS400 days, no doubt you’ve got your reasons. You might have heard some rumors that have turned you into an automation skeptic over the years. Perhaps you think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

To this we say: 56 percent of IBM i shops are already running their IBM i fully unattended.

Clearly, automation is not uncharted territory. In fact, the experts at HelpSystems have been helping users like you automate their computer systems for over 30 years. We hear the most common excuses for not automating 100 times a day and we’ve helped thousands of IT professionals succeed in their automation journey.

And while there are at least two deadly species of spider in the United States (all 40,000+ types produce poisonous venom) and the average human can only hold their breath for 60 seconds (the world record is just over 24 minutes)—rendering these fears somewhat rational—the easiest cure for fear of the unknown is information.

So, it’s time to bust the myths! Here’s the true story behind our top seven misconceptions about automation.

1. Monitoring Is Automation

Monitoring is important, but it’s only the first step. Monitoring assumes that you’ve got someone watching the store, but monitoring doesn’t do anything—it can’t make decisions. True, humans can make decisions using documented procedures and tribal knowledge, but it’s best to turn all that juicy information into automation rules that can be applied automatically—especially after your experienced staff retires—and then only escalate exceptions to the experts.

2. Free or Built-In Solutions Are the Best

As the adage goes, you get what you pay for…and these tools are limited. Free tools are generally inflexible, they don’t talk across platforms, and, when you run into a problem, who can you talk to for support? Built-in tools lead to a tangled mess of multiple schedulers— some generic, some specific to only one application—and a complete lack of inter-application dependency processing. Almost always, these tools lack audit reports and notification for job that end abnormally or long running processes.

3. Third-Party Solutions Are Too Complex

When was the last time you bought a car with roll-up windows and no A/C? More features mean scalability! The features included in a commercial automation solution are there to use if you might need them—and you will need them! Robust does not equal complex if properly presented to the user. Plus, commercial solutions give you someone to fall back on (product support) when you are stuck trying to automate that especially convoluted process.

4. Time Spent on Implementation Is Not Worth It

Yes, there is a cost to implementation: resources and time. But you have a choice here: you can commit the resources upfront for a one-time only implementation or you can continue to waste time fighting fires and troubleshooting inadequate tools. A small investment in a well-managed implementation project—which may include some professional services from the vendor—leads to fewer project launch errors and a better use of resources (software/hardware/human). It also puts IT in a better position to support business growth.

5. You Could Automate Yourself Out of a Job

Quite the opposite, actually. If this is a worry, then you’re in the wrong field. Computer systems are all about automation. IT staffing levels are hardly bloated and seldom, if ever, adequate. Automation is critical or you’ll end up in a vicious, 24/7 cycle of checking on systems and managing overnight staff. Become an expert in automation—we promise it will enhance your career.

6. Lights-Out Automation Is Set and Forget

Nope! Thoughts of set-and-forget are lovely, but hardly realistic. Process audit reports or summaries of the overall health of the automated systems are critical. Plus, your business is always changing. Whether there are major changes to the process or just minor tweaks, as the on-staff automation expert, you’ll be working with the tools at least weekly, if not daily.

7. Automation Happens Overnight

Remember: automation is a journey, not a destination. IT has a never-ending list of projects and is also the enablers of change. Start by automating the daily and mundane manual tasks, then work your way up to month-end and even once a year jobs. After that, you can start to look beyond IT for other business processes that need automation.

So, the next time you hear someone fearmongering about automation, ignore the nasty rumors and set the record straight. Watch our webinar to see why automation really is a lifesaver.

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