Guiding Principles of ITSM Automation
I talked about the ITSM automation in previous blog here. You can't go an pickup some random area to automate it.
By regularly upgrading IT services, customers gain the best service that the company can fulfill, and the service will be of optimal value to the company. IT service automation not only saves expenses on different resources but also allows adequate management of services available to clients.
Following is the path as well as guidelines for you to implement a successful ITSM automation can be considered consider in planning phase.
Principle 1 - Strategic Vision & Planning
You don't need an inauguration ceremony to start the ITSM automation in your organization, but you need a strategic plan to start with. It doesn't matter which team you form initially to prepare the plan, however keep in mind that the vision should be captured, create a bigger picture first, have a sectorial view or the industry perspective, and business focused and well defined objective. Define a path in your plan with a measurable metrics for each milestone.
Principle 2 - Keep it simple
Your main goal should be to simplify the service processes. If the services process of your organization is easy and includes simple steps in the routine, then these automating such services could be a cake-walk. The main goal of simplification of service processes is decreasing the performance variations by reducing process steps. IT services with low-performance variation will deliver a regular service to the client which will generate more value to the client and consequently to the business.
If you can draw a fair relationship among activities or interactions, and if these are routine or followable steps every time, then service automation can be implemented to improve performance, productivity, and quality. Performance, efficiency, and quality can be scaled and improved upon through Continual Service Development processes.
With an automated service, human interaction with the customers, with a higher degree of variation, is held for very particular cases. This way, the service can run efficiently and with optimal performance.
Principle 3 - IT First
No, that does not mean business second. Of-course business process orientation should be at the core of the strategy vision. Remember? We are talking about ITSM here. i.e. Automation of IT Service Management. In IT landscape there are many moving parts such as its intercommunication between different application platforms, infrastructure services, dependencies on business, people, and 3rd party vendors. Categorize your IT landscape into different metaphor, maps, views, and perspectives. The more categorization of your IT you have, the better decision you will be able to make based on the priorities.
Principle 4 - ITIL, the bible of ITSM
It's beyond my assumption that you are aware of ITIL. If not, then should, because ITIL defines the original guidelines for setting up the ITSM environment. The Principle 7 of ITIL defines the importance of "Optimize and Automate" as one of the key pillars of ITSM.
The guiding principles I am listing in this blog is an extension of the same thought, with an emphasis on automation. Depending on the kind of service that is being created during the Service Strategy stage of the ITIL service lifecycle, service automation should be analyzed during the planning stage. Therefore, it is important for your ITSM team and Automation Team to be aware of the ITIL principles first before jumping on the automation bandwagon.
Principle 5 - Governance
Automating ITSM isn't a small initiative, rather it should be an Enterprise level change complying to EA change management process. You must have a Governance structure clearly defining the roles, responsibilities, and escalation path. You may want to involve IT vendors to implement the automation platform? Then whether you need independent Governance structure or bilateral / trilateral structure is all depend upon your priorities and your apatite to outsource.
Without a well-defined governance, you will end up in increasing the risks associated with security, ownership, coordination, and cost escalation.
Principle 6 - Setting up the priorities
Now with the above 5 Principles adopted in sequence, you have placed your house in order. This is the time to get started. Well, not so fast cowboy. You need to wait a minute more!
What about the prioritizing the areas of automation you have identified so far in accordance to the strategy and planning in place?
Here you need to a little lesson from Agile principles. Prioritize the areas and target those aging processes that are most painful for your organization. Here is my advice in "quotes", which anyway is well known in any Agile practice.
"Bring the automation projects on top of the implementation chart that can be implemented with least cost within short period of time and that gives maximum value to the organization and/or the end customer."
Principle 7 - Tools Usage
Don't try to re-invent the wheel in the age of Ferrari. There are plenty of low-code to no-code tools available for the purpose of implementing a decently performing automation. Does your organization come under tight regulation or significant security risks that prevents you to pick up 3rd party tools? You may still evaluate an automation platform dedicatedly built for the purpose or utilize the inbuilt process designer available in your ITSM setup. Such platform not only provides the boot-start, they also come with AI based analysis, monitoring and reporting capabilities.
While selecting right tool, give a change to automation platforms. Evaluate them on parameters such as maturity, robustness, flexibility, manageability, industry proven references and that gives advantage of a sector specific business process automation. This will help in making your ITSM and overall IT landscape independent of aging technologies and addresses risk factors.
Few other areas you may want to look upon during execution of automation projects are coordination of activities, tasks, information, and interactions
An example - to start with Process Automation available in ServiceNow
Doing a pilot automation project is the simplest way to start your ITSM automation journey. If your ITSM is on ServiceNow, then consider using the process automation tool to digitize business processes in automated workflows on the Now Platform. That includes:
Flow Designer - allows process owners to utilize natural language to automate approvals, different tasks, notifications, and record operations without having to code. You can use the Flow Designer design environment to author flows and activities and control flow executions.
Process Automation Designer - Process Automation Designer allows process owners to author cross-enterprise workflows and build a single, unified process. You can also utilize Process Automation Designer to give end-users a clear, task-oriented view of your process.
That's it, I end this topic here. Thanks for reading through. Put up a comment here and tell us about ongoing automation journey and how it is shaping up your ITSM environment.