You may have heard the saying that “today, every company is a software company.” In other words, we rely on IT folks to do more than just keep our digital systems up and running. Now they play a big part in helping to grow the business and fend off digital disruption. But keeping up with the basics in IT – patching, server and desktop updates, provisioning and de-provisioning – requires employees to work at an even faster pace than they had to just a few years ago (consider the new continuous release model in Windows 10, for example).
To keep pace with constant demands from all sides, IT teams have no choice but to reimagine traditional IT management – a key reason why automation tools continue to grow in popularity. But while automation can fraction the amount of time IT spends on various tasks, it’s not a magic bullet. In this post I’ll share a simple trick to distinguishing which IT tasks would make sense for you to automate and which ones don’t, plus the top 5 IT functions to automate.
First off, let’s consider the direct and indirect costs of choosing NOT to automate:
- Direct: IT staff will spend more time working on mundane tasks
- Interruptions: IT teams that have to tackle everything manually find themselves in a constant state of back and forth. Let’s face it: What request coming to IT isn’t urgent? This leads to inconsistent results and lost productivity.
- Security risks: Often the sense of urgency surrounding routine IT tasks, like user deprovisioning, is well justified. The longer it takes IT to discontinue a recently terminated employee’s access to company systems, for example, the more they’re putting the company at risk to lose sensitive and proprietary information.
- Decreased focus on complicated tasks: For every additional minute IT spends on a simple task, they lose time that they could’ve put towards a strategic initiative.
To decide which tasks your team should automate, get IT together and go to the whiteboard. Ask yourself: What tasks does everyone spend the most amount of time on and how much time could you save by automating each one?
- How often does the task occur? The more often, the more reason to automate.
- How much time does it take? It doesn’t make much sense to automate very quick tasks.
- Level of complexity? Automate simple tasks and leave the nuanced ones to the humans. Make use of those higher cognitive reasoning skills!
A quick rule of thumb: the simplest, most time-consuming, and most frequently occurring tasks are the best to automate.
On that note, here’s a list of the top 5 IT functions to automate:
5. Social media presence and response:
Automating routine social media posts can help brands more efficiently maintain a consistent presence across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Reposting/sharing content such as a blog article from one platform to another is the perfect compulsory task to automate, for example.
Companies who frequently field comments and feedback from consumers on social media can also benefit from setting up automatic replies.
4. Account unlocks and password resets
These requests consume more than 30% of an average helpdesk employee’s time. Multiply that by the average cost of a helpdesk ticket ($62 – $84) and you’ll see how automating even the smallest function in IT can compound into significant costs savings over time.
3. User additions, moves, changes
Automation can fraction the amount of time it takes to provision employees from days to minutes. Plus, employee terminations are some of the most interruption-driven tasks that IT contends with. The longer a recently departed employee retains access to company systems, the greater the risk of a breach. Up to 90% of employees who have been offboarded retain access to some of their applications.
2. Software distribution
50% of all software ends up as shelf ware, i.e., when companies never deploy the products they’ve purchased. Automated software distribution allows IT to push software to users as opposed to users having to take software and install it physically. This greatly increases the likelihood that software will actually get deployed.
1. Patch management
Although monthly patching is necessary to fend off the risk of a security breach, most companies haven’t automated the patching process. With such an arduous task constantly looming over IT’s heads, it’s no surprise that 85% of all breaches are due to poor patch management.
Time and cost savings?
If you’re curious to see how much you could save by automating the repetitive tasks associated with your servers and desktops, go here for an estimate. To chat about your automation needs or if you’d like a more personalized automation cost savings analysis, feel free to put some time on my calendar.