IT checklist for identifying automation opportunities

Many IT teams use process automation tools in the drive to save time. Irrespective of using a Powershell script triggered by Windows task scheduler, or using an automation platform such as Ansible, the key to success is targeting the right things to automate.

High volume beats low volume

  • High volume processes get used more thus save more time, and are thus worth investing time to develop and maintain automation
  • Low volume process automation gets used less and thus save less time, and are thus not as valuable to invest time automating.
  • High volume tasks get used more which leads to more mature automation (maturity depends on positive feedback cycle of “use” and “improve”)
  • Low volume process automation get less use, and thus take longer to reach a mature state

Simple processes beats complex processes

  • Simple processes are easier to automate, and as such faster to developer and tend to be more reliable (less to go wrong).
  • Complex processes are harder to develop, tend to take longer to develop and tend to have less reliability due to edge cases that fail.

Low variation beats high variation

  • Processes with low variation have the same automation benefits as simple processes
  • Process with high variation has the same automation downsides as complex processes

Existing process beats new process

  • Automating an existing process removes risks around the process being underestimated.
  • Automating new process comes with a risk of process underestimation. Automation activities turn into process engineering activities.

Time consuming beats time trivial

  • The largest gains come from automating time consuming tasks rather than time trivial tasks.

High variation outputs beat low variation outputs

  • Processes that result in high variation output due to human error have significant automation benefit compared to low variation output processes.

Interfaces (API) beat integration

  • Using API calls to automate processes with systems requires less complexity to maintain compared to integration modules. “Lightweight” Rest API calls tends to have less variation over time, compared to “heavy” integration modules that create software update interdependece and related support challenges.

Pre-approved beats approval dependent

  • Processes that automate manual human approval (through pre-approval methods) are much more effective than automated processes that rely on human approval steps.

Let me know in voting below what you thought of this checklist. If you have suggested additions please let us know via the comments.

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