How to Embrace and Implement ITPA
Automation is everywhere. Even the tech industry, the inexhaustible driver of automation, is going through its own automation transformation. IT process automation (ITPA), also known as run book automation (RBA), is the automation of an IT task through the orchestration and integration of tools, people and process through a single workflow. When done well, ITPA can offer an organization a radically new level of infrastructure efficiency and performance. However, to reach that level, you have to take the right approach, which I believe requires 10-steps and a solid understanding of what you can and should gain from ITPA.
What You Gain: The Case for ITPA
From cloud management and maintenance to application and service provisioning, ITPA reduces human errors and accelerates response times to system problems. As a result, an organization with strong ITPA in place is able to:
- Free up human resources
- Reduce resolution time
- Improve service quality
- Achieve compliance
- Enforce IT standards
Because these goals are important to so many IT organizations today, many are looking to embrace ITPA, but are not sure how to get started. What processes can and should be automated? How do you choose? When do you build scripts and how do you validate results? Find answers to those questions and more in the list below, which leverages IDS automation experience to explain how to take ITPA from start to finish in 10 simple steps.
What You Do: ITPA in 10 Steps
1. Start by making a list of the most common infrastructure tasks—those that are done frequently.
2. Create a flow chart to map out all manual processes for each tasks. The flow chart should:
- Identify exact sequence of steps
- Define inputs and outputs
- Include logic branching
- Take into account human decision points
3. Calculate a ROI for the process by:
- Resources: Determine how many resource hours a manual process takes to manage
- Time: Determine how long it will take to automate the process
4. Choose! Choose a process for automation based on what you have learned. It must be a process with a low amount of hours to automate as well as the ability to deliver a high ROI.
5. Document the API availability.
6. Create a flow chart of the automated process using the commands from Step 5. Make sure you are referencing Step 2 to include all inputs and outputs so there is a reference on how to manually complete an automated process in the rare case of an abnormal exit.
7. Build initial script to perform the process.
8. Test valid inputs to verify the result of the automated process is the same as the manual process.
9. Test bad inputs and add error checking to your script.
10. Build compliance and validation checks to make sure script was successful.
Automation offers tremendous benefits for businesses that approach it knowledgably. In addition to following the 10-step rollout, IDS advises businesses to “start small” by beginning with the right IT task and ensuring there is a comprehensive understanding of the process that is documented in flow charts, visualized manuals and use code comments. The more process knowledge and reference tools you have, the better the automation will go.
Automation Becomes the Glue
When done well, ITPA can become the glue that ties the entire infrastructure together, improving operational efficiency and minimizing risks associated with human error. That glue becomes essential to elevating business performance as team members once focused on manual processes and tasks, refocus their energy and time on strategic tasks and innovative endeavors.
To learn more about ITPA processes and solutions, contact IDS.