Best practices for planning your automation project

Greg Charman
By Greg Charman on 02 December 2020
Best practices for planning your automation project
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The planning of an automation project is crucial to its success. There are crucial factors that should be considered and addressed before embarking on an automation journey.

Having the support and guidance from a senior leader within your organisation will undoubtedly benefit the delivery your project. Implementing automation is a change and, as with any change, it has the potential for resistance. It is imperative to secure the sponsorship from someone who has an interest in service improvement and can negotiate any internal struggles with this change. 

In addition, don’t underestimate the importance of working in partnership with other stakeholders outside the IT department, such as service management or recruitment functions. Obtain their buy-in and seek their counsel on elements of the project which will aid and positively impact their area of responsibility. They will be delighted at the prospect of transforming laborious processes.

Defining automation team structure for optimal success
Once executive sponsorship has been secured and governance established, create an automation project team to assist with the successful delivery of the initiative. Kelverion has a wealth of experience in automation projects and our best practice guidance is to create as structure composed of the following:

  • Business champion – this is typically the IT director or senior sponsor. This person will directly benefit from the efficiencies achieved and will decide which processes should be altered to harness the smooth request fulfilment, which automation will provide.
  •  Automation project lead – this individual should report to the business champion in the organisation structure. They are responsible for reporting the progress of the project and identifying future automation opportunities. In addition, they will highlight any impact on existing business processes or procedures.
  • Automation standards and platform ownership team – This group is formed of several senior individuals who have knowledge of different technological areas, as well as experience of the customer’s process. They will drive the day-to-day automation initiative actions. 
  • Subject matter experts – These team members are specialists in different technology silos and are enlisted for support with an automation use case. They provide detailed technical input in their area of expertise and assist with the testing of the automated process. 

A structure is also required for identifying use cases and building the business case. There are a few key pointers to help identify processes to automate within the service desk and how to justify them. This starts with running reports from your service desk and answering questions such as: What are the most frequent requests? How often is this requested? What is the typical elapsed time to fulfil a request of this nature? How long does it take to process this request manually? What level of technical skill is used to achieve this? What is their fully loaded cost per hour?

The answers to these questions will identify the business costs in time and money for manually fulfilling a task. Kelverion has a very useful Automation Value Calculator to assist organisations with identifying time and cost savings.

In terms of documenting current processes, they are important to understand, however, extensive documentation of the manual process is something which should be avoided. Processes which are automated are never the same as completing the task manually; the automated process will always be more efficient. 

Finally, adopt an agile development process. Future-proofing an automation solution is integral to the continued success of the automation initiative. These factors are almost always overlooked when selecting an automation approach. Consider team collaboration, version control and continuous integration/continuous deployment release management processes.

There are many elements to navigate when piecing together your automation project plan. If you are considering service request automation for your organisation, you may be interested in attending Kelverion’s IT Automation 101 webinar on 10 December. Find out more about what will be covered during the session.

Greg Charman is the vice president of solutions and services at Kelverion

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