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IT, automate thyself

Heed your own advice by focusing on automation and efficiencies. You will find it scales better than just throwing head count at your processes.

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Pinpoint opportunities for better automation and integration. Where can you streamline processes and increase efficiencies instead of head count?

Over the years, IT has implemented solutions and applications to automate business processes. Yet, IT has seen very little automation in its own operations and remains wed to laborious manual processes. The problem? These processes do not scale.

IT suffers from diseconomies of scale. As organizations grow, more revenue is allocated to IT budgets. Instead, IT should thrive with a lower percentage of revenue. Companies need to rely more on shared infrastructure as they grow. They should be able to negotiate. They should spend less, not more. And they should be as efficient in their processes as they require others to be.

IT departments automate ordering, billing, and manufacturing across their organization. They even take on supply-chain management. In contrast, they forget to focus on their own processes. They often manage their own projects with unstructured Microsoft Office tools and communicate via email. They approach new technologies or solutions by throwing more bodies at the problem.

Instead, IT needs to practice what they advocate. They need structured repositories for shared resources and knowledge and an assigned owner and resource to manage them. To be clear, IT is not to blame. In most organizations, IT works reactively on problems, not proactively on solutions. They are busy putting out fires and developing ad hoc solutions to every conceivable problem. Meanwhile, they have ignored their own immediate needs.

Investing in integration competency

Changing the operational culture of an entire department is no small feat. Entrenched IT departments often require even more effort. While there are many places to start, such as automating incident ticket routing or application testing, massive amounts of business value is locked up in the processes surrounding integration of data all over the organization.

A good way to start is by engaging in an Integration Competency Center (ICC) assessment to determine best practices. Pinpoint opportunities for better automation and integration. Where can you streamline processes and increase efficiencies instead of head count?

By investing more in automation, IT departments can:

  • Focus staff on value-added activities rather than low-level, repetitive tasks
  • Increase efficiency by shortening project delivery times
  • Improve return on investment (ROI) through reuse and reducing costs
  • Eliminate duplication or repetition of efforts
  • Improve quality of service by eliminating error-prone manual steps

Helping yourself

If you truly want to scale your own IT department’s processes, the solution is not to throw more people at the problem. Start by:

  • Standardizing work processes
  • Developing configurable re-useable components
  • Automating routine activities with appropriate technologies

If you invest in automating IT, you will be putting out fewer fires and will be more responsive to the business. And your whole organization can boast the achievement of reaching true economies of scale.

For more on the inherit diseconomies of scale perpetuated by IT, read John Schmidt’s blog post, “The Biggest Dirty Little Secret in IT,” in the Informatica Perspectives blog.

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