Automation offers huge potential for streamlining processes and increasing productivity, but it can be difficult to implement. However, if you understand the challenges involved in introducing an automation solution and prepare for them adequately, your organization can reap the benefits. Here we outline the key challenges you can expect to encounter when you launch an IT automation project in your organization. We Offer suggestions on how to overcome them and discuss the technology available to help you.
It is easy to get swept away with the promise of IT automation. Freeing up your engineers to perform more valuable work by automating more manual tasks is undoubtedly appealing, but you must be prepared to deal with issues such as resistance to the need for robotic process automation (RPA). It is useful in everything from data discovery and data preparation to data replication and data warehouse maintenance. It also allows enterprises to monitor, measure, and prove the business outcomes facilitated by automation to promote continuous growth.
Resistance to RPA
To many people, RPA suggests job losses, so you would expect some employees to be concerned by the prospect. Furthermore, IT teams are already under pressure and implementing RPA presents yet another challenge.
However, companies that have implemented RPA have experienced positive returns in terms of enhanced accuracy, speed of implementation, flexibility, and compliance. According to a 2017 Deloitte report 85% of respondents revealed that RPA outperformed their expectations.
Management needs to communicate the positive effects of RPA to their workforce, emphasizing that it allows people to move from more manual tasks to work that offers greater job satisfaction. Involving team members in the design and implementation of the RPA initiative will also help counter opposition and improve job satisfaction.
Inadequate Infrastructure to Support RPA
Many companies decide to invest in RPA without considering their infrastructure first. This is one of the key challenges of automation because its enormous potential simply cannot be delivered without proper infrastructure.
To be successful, organizations need to understand that automation technologies are very different to systems they might have worked with before and that they must learn quickly to be able to deploy them at scale and at pace.
To meet this challenge, project managers and IT leaders must be fully prepared for the implementation of their RPA initiative, ensuring that the appropriate infrastructure is in place to develop and deploy it.
Slowdown in Progress with More Complex Use Cases
Process standardization is one of the most problematic aspects of implementing automation. In simple terms, the more complex the process, the more difficult and costly it is to apply automation. Complex use cases increase both operating costs and business disruption because, as processes become more complex, unpredictable, and fragmented, the cost of automation can soar.
However, to see a meaningful, long-term return on investment, it is these complex business processes that need to be automated. This means you cannot rely on one automation technology to automate your complex business processes. For truly impactful automation that delivers significant returns across the organization, you need to combine several automation technologies to automate specific processes.
Requirement for tools that combine CI and CD
A CI/CD pipeline enables DevOps teams to automate certain steps in the software delivery process, including the initiation of code builds, running automated tests, and deploying to a staging or production environment.
However, adopting CI/CD can be very challenging for organizations because a range of stakeholders need to buy into it, and their goals may conflict with each other. To overcome this challenge, you need to create a dedicated CI/CD team with representatives from different areas of the organization and start the process with the easy but important applications.
Requirement for Agile teams
Companies that follow a project or waterfall approach to automation often experience difficulties because everything is decided in advance, and the objective is to complete the project on time and within budget. This rigidity means that if issues arise months into a project, there is no maneuverability, so entire automation projects may need to be redesigned from scratch.
Applying agile principles to automation is a much more efficient approach because risk and rework are manageable. By adopting agile principles before you start your automation project, your team has a far better prospect of success.
Best Practices for Automation & Orchestration
Orchestration involves automating several processes at once, with the aim of streamlining and optimizing frequent, repeatable processes. Ideally, you would fully automate every DevOps process and procedure, but in the real world you need to prioritize the processes to be automated first:
- Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery: The importance of CI/CD to the smooth operation of DevOps means this should be the primary focus for automation.
- Software Testing: Manual testing of software prior to release is a massive waste of resources, and not reliably accurate. Test automation tools are not only faster, they are also more thorough and free up your QA staff for more meaningful work.
- Monitoring: Automation tools are invaluable for tracking the availability, performance, and security of DevOps environments, which are too fast-paced and multifaceted to be practical for manual monitoring.
- Managing Logs: Automated log management is the optimal way to aggregate and analyze the vast amounts of log data that DevOps environments create.
How Device42 Can Help
As we have seen, the successful implementation of automation solutions depends on a range of factors, including the need for adequate infrastructure and a multiplicity of tools to manage complex use cases and ensure CI/CD runs smoothly.
Device42 offers a selection of out-of-the-box automation solutions to manage your automation efforts, including if-this-then-that tools, homegrown scripts, powerful Webhooks, well-documented RESTful APIs, and a range of 3rd party integrations. Our application dependency mapping (ADM) tools also help your automation efforts, reducing manual workloads for IT staff by auto-generating dependency and impact visuals from user-defined application components from the bottom up.
Find out how Device42 can offer your organization an up-to-date, single source of truth for your automation and orchestration efforts with a free trial.