It's difficult to argue against automation today. It helps enterprises to save time and money, improve quality, become more efficient, and increase their financial results. All of it thanks to automating processes that were previously handled manually.
However, while automation solves many problems, it can become the underlying cause of other issues. This is especially true for organizations that deploy brand-new technologies like Robotic Process Automation for business purposes. Many other automation efforts come with their unique challenges, such as cloud automation, IT service management, or DevOps.
Still, if you do it right, automation definitely lives up to its promise. The key to success here is knowing which mistakes you should avoid.
Here are some common mistakes many enterprises make when implementing IT automation that might ruin your automation efforts.
1. Lack of an automation strategy
Do you need a strategy for automation in the first place? Why not just deploy automation whenever it seems to bring value, given that it's inherently always a good thing for business?
Just like any other IT program, automation requires a master plan. In order for automation to bring you the results you seek, you need an overarching and clearly defined strategy that keeps things under your control.
Implementing automation without any outlined strategy in place is a bad idea. You simply don't know where you're going to end up and where you want automation to take you.
Instead of getting paralyzed by having to define a large and expensive process of end-to-end lifecycle automation, identify opportunities in smaller processes and repeatable activities that could offer an excellent entry point for automation in your organization.
2. Your process isn't scalable
Many project managers build their workflows in a hurry to finally put an end to bottlenecks, disorganized projects, and fragmented communications.
Sure, automated workflows help to streamline processes. But it's essential that they're adaptable and scalable.
Many teams outgrow a workflow within six months from its implementation. When this happens, and you're not prepared for it, you're essentially back to square one.
That's why it pays to design automated workflows with the thought of adapting them to growing teams and incoming information. That way, the workflow will bring the best results for the team - no matter the direction and speed at which it evolves.
3. Implementing automation just for the sake of it
The industry buzz around automation makes it one of the likeliest candidates for any digital transformation project across many industries. Vendors quickly jumped on the automation bandwagon and emphasized the automation capabilities of their tools all over the place.
While IT automation delivers real benefits when implemented correctly, you can't drive an automation project with a sense of urgency and need to innovate at its core.
Before implementing automation, develop a clear strategy that considers the existing automation efforts, key indicators for success, and the overall business value for automation.
One of the key steps you need to take is to carefully consider the processes that could be good candidates for automation. Ask yourself these questions every time you assess the process at hand:
Do the benefits gained from automation outweigh the cost of automating this process?
Do you really need to automate this process? Or perhaps you're doing that because everyone in your industry is doing that?
4. Automating too many processes too soon
Just because many of your processes could potentially be automated, it doesn't make sense to deploy multiple automation tools all at once. Altering the workings of your organization that way isn't going to bring the results you seek.
You need to start with a smaller case, gain some early adopters and showcase their successes to the executes. This is how to build momentum – definitely not by forcing automation across the entire enterprise.
By developing specific use cases and showing how automation solves issues, you will allow teams to see the success of automation firsthand. This will make them more likely to embrace the new tools successfully.
5. Lack of clear KPI understanding
IT process automation sounds great, but what does a successful implementation look like for your organization? In order to know that, you need to establish clear metrics that will help you to assess how well automation is working right now and how you can optimize it.
Consider both short-term goals and long-term strategic objectives. Make sure to measure the ROI of your IT automation initiatives in dollars related to both reductions in downtime and savings.
Don't forget to also include a list of quantifiable benefits like increased customer satisfaction or employee productivity. You need to know what works and what doesn't. Otherwise, you'll be implementing automation in a vacuum.
6. Rushing into RPA
Finding an RPA for your use case is easier than ever today. Vendors create many different bots that are easy to implement. But picking the first bot that looks good might bring about some issues down the road.
It's essential that you have a full understanding of the process that the RPA is going to solve for you. RPA tools can be incredibly expensive and troublesome to implement when your processes aren't completely defined. That's why rushing into RPA isn't in your best interest at all.
7. Rushing into DevOps
Implementing DevOps across IT departments is an evolving trend. No wonder - DevOps improves development environments and accelerates processes.
However, jumping into the DevOps bandwagon quickly might cause a surge of different challenges. DevOps isn't something that happens overnight. It's a process that takes time.
Today, DevOps processes allow developers to easily create new branches and environments in the cloud. But you need to have control over this. Otherwise, you will end up with a lot of different codebases in your repository and potentially a lot of cloud environments increasing your cloud build.
So, take your time when selecting the right tools for the job and weave them slowly into your environment. Nobody likes revolutions, not even the most innovative developers.
8. Trusting automation to improve your process
Automation isn't a silver bullet that can heal a broken process. If your teams are already tripping while walking, running isn't going to solve that issue.
Automating a process doesn't automatically make it better. It just makes it faster.
Instead, what you need to do is improve your process in line with the overall automation approach. Measure, learn, reengineer, and then automate the process. That's the way to success.
9. Lack of a governance process
Just because you automate the process, it doesn't mean that your teams and CIOs are free from being responsible. Sure, automation can yield incredible results in terms of reducing human errors or manual effort. Still, it doesn't guarantee that your systems are infallible.
You will face issues - even if you automate everything perfectly. So, you need governance plans to handle them. You'll be able to foster accountability and prevent major disasters before they occur with this approach.
This is what proper governance brings - it ensures that the right people are involved at the right time to achieve the desired outcomes.
10. Expect too much automation in the first few weeks
In the long run, automation is bound to increase efficiency and allow your teams to focus on higher-order work instead of the painful manual tasks that get automated.
But one of the most common mistakes enterprises commit over and over again is assuming that automation will make tasks much easier immediately.
Implementing automation isn't a walk in the park. You need to expect some trial and error as you integrate your automation solution and optimize it. If you're transitioning from purely manual operations and QA processes to automated ones, the first few weeks are going to be tough. Prepare for that accordingly, and don't expect to score many quick wins at the beginning of your automation journey.
In the end, it's important to understand that IT automation isn't a flip of the switch. It's a continuous process that gets better and better over time. This is the primary perk of automation – as you reiterate it and optimize it, automation brings your greater effects.
Are you looking for an experienced team to help launch your IT automation initiative?
At Maxima Consulting, we have delivered automation projects for organizations across different sectors and know what it takes to implement IT automation successfully – especially by avoiding all of these common pitfalls.