Process automation is one of the most important technologies available today. Automation helps companies increase productivity by eliminating repetitive work and avoiding errors. Automation also speeds up response times and builds better user experiences.
Like other business areas, IT teams have much to gain from automation. For IT teams that are under-resourced and overworked, IT process automation (ITPA) alleviates the burden of manual or repetitive tasks and frees up more of IT’s most valuable resource: time.
In this post, we’ll define the concept of IT process automation, explore its benefits, consider some examples, and look at how automation helps IT and business teams collaborate more effectively to solve problems in any area of the business.
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What is an IT process?
An IT process is a workflow or series of steps that the IT team follows to meet its goals. IT processes may support only the IT team, or they may support other business units. In either case, most of the work of an IT process is carried out by the IT team. For example, the workflow for resolving incoming IT service requests is a type of IT process.
What is IT process automation?
ITPA refers to the use of automation technology — like business process automation software — to streamline high-volume, repetitive tasks and eliminate the manual management of IT operations, such as administration, services, and support.
The goal of IT process automation is to free up resources within the IT team by taking repetitive tasks off their plate. Think: sharing emails to multiple people, following up on status updates, responding to service requests, and sending out security or training reminders. When these repetitive tasks are automated, IT teams can devote more time to the value-adding activities of the business.
Low-code Automation: Good for Business, Great for ITRead the report
How does IT process automation work?
IT process automation works by using software to manage certain tasks. Each automation follows a logical sequence of events that include a trigger, automated work, and an end result.
Each automation is set in motion by a trigger. Triggers are starting points that are determined by rules and conditionals. These rules and conditionals are usually set through a visual interface, such as those used by low-code automation. Once the triggering event occurs, the automation is in motion.
The automation itself can take a number of forms, but it can generally be any task or action that is repetitive, frequent, and that doesn’t require decision making skills. (Some hyperautomation initiatives include AI or machine learning components that can make decisions, but most automations are far more simple.) Examples of automated tasks include approvals, notifications, status updates, document creation, or ticket routing.
In addition to a trigger, each automation will also produce an outcome. These are the final result or action of the automation. Results can be counted, monitored, and assessed for quality.
6 benefits of IT process automation
While automating manual work is a big perk of ITPA, the real business value of ITPA lies in the additional, more tangible benefits, including:
- Improved accuracy: For teams that deal with highly sensitive information, accuracy is essential. Automation replaces the human element and reduces the opportunities for errors by eliminating unnecessary inputs, like data-entry and updates, ensuring processes are secure and compliant.
- Streamlined communication and collaboration: Communications gaps are eliminated or minimized when emails, feedback requests, and other types of communication are automated. And when communication is automated, teams are better equipped to collaborate — within their own department and cross-functionally.
- Faster response times: Whether it’s a mission-critical system failure or an employee that needs a new computer, response time is everything. By using automation to organize and escalate service requests, teams are able to respond and solve problems faster.
- Better visibility: Never lose track of a ticket or urgent request again. When the progress of tasks is automated, updates don’t rely on manual inputs, managers are always in the know and on top of workflow updates.
- Increased productivity: Employees who aren’t bogged down by repetitive tasks have more time to be strategic, creative, and proactive.
- Process standardization: Consistent process frameworks that can be easily repeated makes it easier to manage and optimize processes as needs change, and enforce security requirements — for IT and beyond.
Low-code automation for ITPA
Low-code business process automation (BPA) software makes it easier for users to build, modify, and standardize their processes, all without any coding experience.
Low-code automation resolves the familiar tension between the business team’s need for agility and the IT team’s need for control. Low-code BPA tools let teams build and automate the digital processes they need, without compromising security, adding to the IT backlog, and reducing the use of shadow IT.
Plus, low-code software includes three crucial capabilities in a single platform: a database, an intuitive user interface, and a rules engine for easy automation.
|How IT teams leverage and enhance automation|
|62% heavily rely on triggered actions|
|44% use automation for long-running, multi-user processes|
|34% use automation for guided self-service|
|28% use decision assist/AI|
|28% leverage chatbots|
|23% use robotic process automation|
|89% of IT and engineering leaders integrated third-party tools to enhance automations|
IT process automation software features
With the number of automation platforms available, it can be difficult to decide which option is best — but it doesn’t have to be. Below is a breakdown of 10 essential low-code BPA features and benefits IT teams can leverage to help streamline and standardize IT workflows:
One of the most valuable features that process automation software can deliver is the ability to orchestrate processes and workflows. Look for software options that integrate with the components of the existing stack to fill process gaps and update systems of record as items move through workflows.
Low-code automation software uses a visual interface that reduces the need for custom coding and makes it easier for business teams to perform some actions quickly, without having to send every request to IT.
The more integration capabilities your ITPA software has, the better. These integrations help maintain data consistency and improve collaboration across teams and departments. Integrating an IT process automation solution with current apps and systems can help teams achieve stack extensibility.
Most IT teams receive requests through multiple channels. Often, these requests are delivered via email or even verbally, both of which add to the work it takes to formalize and manage these incoming requests. Look for an ITPA option that includes a forms feature. Forms capture and consolidate incoming requests, and forces requestors to provide all the required information needed to complete their request. Automation can then route the incoming request to the appropriate reviewer.
A template is a pre-built, customizable process or workflow. Templates provide a ready-to-use structure that maps out the process and gives teams a starting point to get their workflows in motion.
Conditional logic and rules
Successful automation depends on being able to organize and route information through the process without error. Conditional logic and rules are two features that can help IT teams customize workflows and standardize processes.
Low-code tools combine automation with a low-code development framework. This speeds up development cycles and invites business users (who may not have coding experience) to take a more active role in problem solving.
Security will always be priority number 1 for IT teams. Look for ITPA software with security features that simplify security, compliance, and governance. For example, SSO, MFA, user management, permissions, and encryption.
Examples of IT processes that can be automated
IT service requests
Service requests are one of the most important processes the IT team has to manage. These incoming requests vary in type, urgency, and the amount of effort required to resolve them. Each type of IT service request may require a different workflow or routing structure. Low-code automation simplifies the creation and modification of these workflows to conserve developer resources and keep service requests moving along.
Change requests are formal requests to modify or update a product or system. These types of requests usually require multiple layers of approval and/or extensive documentation. A customizable ITPA solution with a forms feature can simplify change request management by creating consistent inputs and enforcing rules that prevent missing or incomplete information.
Similar to service requests, the IT help desk receives (or creates) a high volume of tickets to assist customers and solve problems. Automation can ensure that the help desk tickets are received, organized, and routed quickly. This improves response times, eliminates bottlenecks, and improves visibility. Low-code automation options can also allow those who submit a ticket to track its progress, a feature that improves customer satisfaction scores.
Compliance and auditing
Enforcing compliance requirements is one of the most important responsibilities of the IT team. Performing audits – either as scheduled or in response to an incident – is another. IT process automation helps teams organize and plan for audits, maintain records, and monitor statuses for any audits that are underway.
New hires almost always require some support from the IT team as they onboard with their new employer. IT teams typically issue equipment, set up login credentials, and manage security for new hires. IT process automation software that integrates with the existing stack can help create a seamless onboarding flow that dovetails with other onboarding activities.
Why IT needs low-code automation
Handling service requests. Managing hardware. Working with engineers to solve bugs. Monitoring and enforcing compliance and security. These are the many functions of IT teams, and the successful execution of these functions is what keeps companies running smoothly and securely.
IT process automation brings clarity to the ambiguity of managing multiple workflows across many types of business processes and company departments. By leveraging tools like low-code BPA software, teams are able to achieve IT operational excellence and bridge the gap between the business and IT.