I’ve been involved with building, selling and implementing Information Technology workflow solutions for over 10 years now. For some reason, IT has not fully capitalized on technologies to automate processes. However, the need remains strong. Implementing automated workflow processes, organizations optimize and improve business operations by delivering:
- Greater control of IT processes and operations
- Reduced costs of process execution through higher efficiency and better management of the people involved
- Shortened cycle times in the development and deployment of IT processes as well in the execution of those processes through improved and refined business workflows
- Reduced risk by giving organizations greater agility for responding to changing business conditions.
Two of the most common workflow processes implemented within the IT environment are software reharvesting and software request management. By integrating the workflow process with your desktop configuration management tools, it is relatively easy to automate the software removal and software distribution tasks. This not only reduces manual effort but also provides a valuable audit trail of when the software was either removed or installed, for license compliance audit purposes.
However in a business functional area that generally promotes automation, I continue to see most IT organizations resist process automation. The reasons are many, from a lack of automation tool flexibility, to inconsistency within the IT processes themselves, to the lack of integration points within software applications. However, with the continued pressure on IT to do more with less, every company needs to evaluate and commit to IT automation to control costs, improve efficiency, and remain competitive in the marketplace.
Where do I see opportunities for automation within IT? The most common targets of IT process automation that you should be evaluating within your organization include (but are not limited to):
- On-boarding and off-boarding of employees
- Software patch management
- Software packaging and distribution
- Virtualization of applications
- Active Directory management
- Security request
- Hardware request
- Change management
- OS deployment
And the aforementioned:
- Software request—workflows that manage self-service requests via an enterprise app store and integrate that process with the license management process to do a license availability check, can ensure that existing licenses are consumed before making additional purchases.
- Software reharvesting—reclaiming licenses for under-used or unused applications and removal of that software from the device
By implementing automated workflow processes, the organization gains an IT process that is consistent, repeatable, auditable, adheres to corporate standards, eliminates manual steps, reduces cost and increases efficiency. We spend most of our time within IT completing repeatable tasks. By automating some of those same tasks, we can spend more time innovating IT.