When the ability to use a tool like automation software becomes available to more people within an organization, it can be an IT lead’s best friend or his worst nightmare. Naturally, when vetting software—or simply just considering software—IT will have plenty of questions. Be prepared to answer some of these common questions from your friends in IT in your automation discussions.
Question: If an environment changes and an automated task doesn't work, then what?
Answer: If there’s any “hot button” issue with IT, it’s that of change, and how systems that are brought in can handle and keep up with it. When it comes to back end systems changing, automation software is ready to respond in several ways. First of all, robust automation software has error-handling mechanisms built-in, to catch these issues when they arise. It’s very easy to build logic into the system for scenarios when you want the system to react in a certain way. When systems and environments change, automation software also makes it possible to edit scripts easily without having to re-write them or re-record automated tasks.
Question: Does the tool identify processes to automate?
Answer: One of the first questions asked as people vet software is simply to ask “What can we automate?” There are two ways to answer this question.
1. No matter what, you have the best handle on your business and what you do on a daily basis, and are therefore able to determine what process would be helpful to automate. But how do you determine what to automate first? Your automation software should include an ROI calculator to determine which of these processes would be most advantageous to automate first, making it easy to prioritize.
2. In addition to ROI calculators, the best way to determine the best automation candidates is to crowdsource your organization for the information. You can use idea generator tools that already exist, or—for an even more efficient line from idea to automation—use a tool like Cumulus which encourages anyone in your organization to suggest tasks to automate, allows others to vote on tasks, shows time saved by automating that task, and lets you go directly into automating the projects with the most votes/most ROI.
Question: How many different systems can this interact/work with?
Answer: Automation software that uses front-end automation allows you to interact with virtually any type of system since no back-end coding is necessary. And yes, that includes the legacy, dinosaur-status LOB systems too.
Question: How accurate is this?
Answer: Accuracy, being paramount in terms of importance for IT teams, will absolutely come up in your conversations about automation software. Automation software, at its core, answers this question since it’s main purpose is to save time, reduce costs, and reduce human error. There’s a saying that “Automation never takes a vacation,” and it’s true. Many tasks and processes can run constantly without fail or fatigue. Should errors arise, the system sets off the alarm bells and lets you know right away, preventing you from wasting time or money on an error might have slipped through the cracks and negatively affected you down the line.
Question: How do we control task creation?
Answer: There are plenty of ways to keep automation from spiraling out of control (or handing the ability to create tasks to novices and then having to step in and intervene anyway). Among the options are:
1. Picking a select group of internal champions who develop automated tasks and processes, and leaving task creation in their hands.
2. Distributing run-time (executable) licenses to other people in the company who should definitely be using automation, but not necessarily creating the tasks.
3. Utilizing a company’s in-person or online training resources to ensure that people who will be creating tasks have a good grasp on how to do it.
What are some questions you anticipate your IT department would have about automation?