Why IT Automation Is Critical to Business Process Improvement

Derik Belair
As the economy rebounds and budgets are loosened, all departments can expect a higher than normal level of scrutiny on requests for additional resources. For IT departments, this may be daunting. Many are seen as an expense or cost center rather than a high-value, strategic contributor to the enterprise's success. As a result, IT budgets are often established by senior management or a CIO using an arbitrary percentage of operating expenditures, in good times and bad. It therefore behooves IT leaders to scrutinize their business processes more than ever before, with the goal of finding more efficient ways to do business.

Business process improvement through automation is an area where IT departments can make an impact, while also providing an example of efficiency to the rest of the organization. The key is to automate the right type of routine tasks to realize new efficiencies, achieve a systematic approach to operations and improve technician productivity. For example, an IT automation platform can replace many tedious manual in-house processes including updating patches, resetting passwords, running defrags, application deployments, performing asset management and updating software on employees' systems, as well as endpoint security, and regulatory compliance-with auditable logs-and many other tasks. 

The importance of IT automation is punctuated by the number of desktops or computers that can be managed per help desk employee. Our experience with IT departments and managed service providers (MSPs) shows that an average IT technician can effectively manage about 125 to 150 devices without an automation solution. Contrast this with the operational reality of many small- and mid-size businesses that have 100 to 1000 employees. For this size of business, particularly if any infrastructure growth is anticipated, automation is critical to an IT department's ability to maintain or improve upon service levels. N-able's work with MSPs in particular shows that by automating tasks and processes related to network monitoring and management, an IT service provider can easily manage 500 devices or more per technician.

More than anything, IT automation is a strategy for automating manual processes, eliminating or reducing the number of nuisance calls, and lessening the cost of dealing with calls that are received. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) platforms have recently emerged as one of the most efficient tools to handle and automate these tasks. IT organizations can use RMM technology to:
Reduce IT operational costs and increase IT staff productivity

Easily automate a host of manual tasks behind the scenes, such as:

  • Run defrags, send patch updates, distribute software, execute script.
  • Desktop policy management.

Remote monitoring to deliver higher levels of proactive service

  • Become proactive with access to real-time, 24x7 network information.
  • Manage a distributed architecture as if it were local.
  • Detect and correct network and system problems before they lead to costly downtime.
  • Apply monitoring automatically based on discovered asset information.

Improve transparency with tactical and business reporting

  • Budgetary and capacity planning.
  • Legislative compliance and warranty management.

 Drive down operational costs and increase staff productivity

  • Technicians can easily manage 500+ devices each.
  • Support and troubleshoot remotely anywhere, anytime.
  • Leverage sophisticated remote control tools to improve offsite maintenance, lower response times, and improve off-hours access to systems.

No Choice, But Automation

No matter what your budget, the enterprise will continue to face attacks from a variety of security threats. In addition, support for branch offices with routers, firewalls, servers, employee workstations and other infrastructure equipment will not wane. All of this will need to be managed, monitored and maintained, often 24/7. In short, demands on help desk and IT support services will inevitably increase-and budgets likely will not.
How will you adapt? Those IT departments not yet relying upon automation, and specifically on RMM, to tackle the growing challenges of business process management may want to re-think their strategies.

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