Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Enhance value proposition for automation
Once an organization successfully builds momentum in adopting automation as a means of driving efficiency, it is common to expect a large number of automation solutions being developed and delivered. In a large or even a medium sized organization, this means there can be multiple teams delivering solutions on multiple areas involving multiple stake holders.
Right about when the organization starts benefitting from the efficiency introduced by automation, a common hurdle that it faces is with managing the multiple automations that are now being developed in their organization. This can lead to a number of questions that need to be answered but getting the right answers for them is never easy.
Following are some of these questions,
How do we learn the total number of automations existing in the system?
What are the automations which are still relevant and what automations can be
What is the ROI of the individual automations as well as the ROI being achieved by the overall automation movement?
How can we identify the ownership of the automations in place?
How can a new team member understand and support the existing automations?
How can we effectively enhance / modify an existing automation?
There is a certain level of maturity that an organization achieves during its automation journey and the teams keep evolving as they learn during the process. Building a specialized automation team which acts as the Centre of Excellence for IT automation responsible for driving / enabling automation for all the other teams in the organization can be very effective. The automation team has put in place certain practices/solutions which answer the above listed questions.
An Automation Governance System/Practices
A Runbook for each automation
Automation Governance System/Practices
An Automation Governance system is a solution that helps with end to end lifecycle management for an automation. This acts as a solution provisioning, registry, discovery life-cycle management system. In our case, we built a web based portal (which we call as Automicity) to solve this requirement for us.
The features associated with such a solution are,
Means of creating an automation request and notify the automation team
Capturing all relevant data associated with the request like,
Automation Requestors - need for automation like requestor, expected ROI, ownership, life term, support member(s), scheduled vs on-demand, dependencies on other team processes
Automation Developers – Automation engineer(s), tech stack details, workflow location, frequency of the schedule, dependencies on other automations, integrations with other systems, runbook location
An automation inventory which consists of all automations that have been developed so far or have been identified and need to be implemented. Based on the data captured in this system, we build our solutions and have certain practices in place which help keep our automation stack clean. We review the solutions frequently and ensure that only the required automations are running in the environment. This helps us eliminate any un-necessary processes from executing and with managing the load on the automation systems effectively.
While the above mentioned automation governance system helps in keeping track of all automations that are being developed in the organization, there is also a need to have a clear documentation for each of the individual automation that is being developed. We call this as the Automation Runbook.
We have created a template for the automation runbook which captures the following details for each automation,
Process flow diagram
Inputs and outputs
Dependencies and integrations
Access to automation
This runbook is version controlled and can be tracked from the automation governance system. It is a very useful reference document to have when a new member joins a team and needs a knowledge transition on existing automations of the team and acts as a guide which helps when there are updates/modifications to be performed on an existing automation.
One more thing..
Apart from the above mentioned, we also look at every opportunity that comes our way as an excuse to refresh the automation inventory. Events like upgrading automation tools,
adoption of any new tools and training of new members on automation are used to perform a complete rundown of the existing automations in the environment and perform a cleanup if required.
Having a Centre of Excellence for automation has been a key in our case for effectively managing our automation landscape. An organization level, periodic review event can be an effective way to keep the chaos of automation under control.