Today’s CIOs and IT organizations have a challenging juggling act. On the one hand, they’re leading digital transformations and investing in customer experience, analytics, application modernizations, cloud migrations, and experiments in AI and IoT. On the other hand, they must reduce costs, drive efficiencies, and improve the reliability, security, and performance of business-critical applications and systems.
CIOs understand this mission well, as it’s been a longstanding goal to help their organizations gain competitive advantages with technology and data while reducing operating costs and risks. Achieving a balance between these goals requires shifting costs from “running the business” to growth and transformation areas without compromising service levels or end-user satisfaction scores.
Progressive CIOs have a game changer at their fingertips in the form of IT automation, where IT administrators use a low-code, visual paradigm for scripting and executing standard operating procedures. Some automation examples include:
CIOs should learn from Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) that have a long history of applying IT automations to improve service levels, expand their service offerings, and reduce costs. Automations are the backbone to scaling IT operations in these environments, and proactive leaders can replicate this success to gain competitive advantages in other types of businesses.
Resolve offers IT automation capabilities to enterprises by connecting insights to actions, delivering visual tools to orchestrate and execute automations, and providing hundreds of out-of-the-box automation tasks and processes. Resolve’s integrations cover public clouds like AWS and Azure, ITSM platforms like Cherwell and ServiceNow, enterprise platforms such as Microsoft and Oracle, and development tools including Jira and Jenkins.
Delivering ROI and business value with IT automation requires CIOs to position it as transformational and lead it as an IT game-changer. Here’s a three-step blueprint on how to define the IT automation program and deliver business impact.
It’s a mistake to think of investing in IT automation as an “IT project.” When the CIO is trying to improve service levels, grow innovation capabilities, or reduce costs, there should be a defined vision connecting stakeholders, business value, and success criteria.
There are several potential stakeholders, and CIOs should consider the following opportunities and business drivers:
These are all common pain points, and by engaging stakeholders, CIOs can help identify where IT automation can deliver the greatest impact. CIOs should look to translate pain points into success criteria, and where feasible, define a metric that can help benchmark where IT automation delivers improvements.
With business stakeholders identified, success criteria established, and metrics targeted, CIOs should now help IT self-organize and define an implementation roadmap.
The best way to help IT generate incremental business impact is by applying agile methodologies and a scrum process to deliver IT automation. A selected product owner should organize stakeholder feedback, prioritize user stories, review implementations, and orchestrate sprint reviews. Stakeholders should participate in the sprint reviews, witness the progress IT is making, and celebrate major accomplishments.
But how should the product owner prioritize the automations, especially when there are multiple stakeholders and success criteria identified?
The product owner should consider two independent dimensions: business value and implementation complexity.
Product owners can quantify business value when stakeholders identify success criteria and metrics. For example, if field operations want improved services, estimate improvements in request and incident resolution times. If human resources want to enhance the employee onboarding experience, quantify the steps where automation can reduce the most time, decrease implementation effort, or eliminate error-prone steps.
Sometimes, looking backward over a time period can be used to quantify automations’ improvements. For example, quantifying three months of provisioning, patching, and upgrading systems help product owners prioritize automations based on ticket volume, required effort, and execution complexity.
The other side of the coin is understanding implementation complexity. I always ask agile teams to estimate their work in story points that capture both complexity and implementation effort. This metric helps the product owner prioritize quick wins and avoid over-investing in automations that are hard to implement.
As IT delivers automations in agile sprints, the CIO should require IT leaders to report on the identified metrics in a defined cadence, such as monthly or quarterly. It’s often the aggregate of several automations that drive KPI improvements, and it might take time before automations show their business impacts.
Some metrics to consider include:
Most important is to close the loop with stakeholders by sharing where metric improvements have exceeded their success criteria. This approach illustrates the business value and fosters increased demand for implementing new automations.
And CIOs need the automations and partnership with stakeholders today more than ever. Every company is trying to improve customer experience and the delivery of technology services to employees. The business demand for implementing new technologies and improving systems’ reliability requires IT to automate more of the underlying operation.
Advancing IT initiatives with hyperautomation will be critical for success in complex environments.
The CMDB has a checkered past but is finally ready to shed its bad reputation thanks to AIOps.