Chances are, in an average day, you are not accomplishing as many tasks as you would like … and neither are your colleagues or your employees. What is mystifying about that statement is that it seems today’s workforce is putting in more hours and more effort than ever before coinciding with an increased adoption of IT devices and applications designed to improve user productivity. In fact, this has been a key driver for organizations to enable workforce mobility – to provide flexibility in accessing business IT resources (applications, data, email, and other services) from any device at any location at any time in order to improve overall business performance. But even the most accomplished business professionals must admit there are days when little gets done despite herculean efforts.

In truth, we live in an increasingly complex world where workers need to rapidly respond to customer requests and changing business requirements at a moment’s notice.  Since access to key IT resources is at the heart of nearly every business process – whether it’s writing a paper or composing an email or just surfing the web – the availability and performance of applications and other IT services is directly tied to user productivity. Any time workers need to stop what they’re doing to address an IT issue (such as to provision a new application, enable access to a remote system, or submit a service request) directly reduces the amount of time they are spending on job tasks. In fact, once workers have been distracted from a task, it can take them as much as 20 minutes to refocus back on that task after they’ve dealt with the distraction. To compensate for the lost time, employees have to work extra hours or fail to complete all the tasks on their list. However, increasing productivity should not mean increasing work time and effort!

The most effective solution is to simply decrease the number of unnecessary distractions, and, in regards to IT, this can only be accomplished with the strategic employment of automation. In an ideal world, the right application is always at the fingertip of a user and access to new services is enabled with the touch of a single button. By employing user-focused automated solutions, an organization can enable simplified deployment, configuration, and access to business IT services in a way that is dynamically customized to each user’s needs. Here are some key elements to look for in any automation solution to ensure it is user-focused:

  • Asset Management – The automation of IT services requires a comprehensive understanding of the devices used to access them, configurations of their operating environment, and any currently installed applications. This inventory should be maintained in a centralized database for easy retrieval during the execution of an automated process.
  • Role-Based Policies – Groups of users with the same job functions (or “roles”) are likely to have similar requirements for accessing applications, data, and business services. This enables pre-approved automated services to be created that authorize and configure resources without needing administrator interaction or preapprovals.
  • Patching and Updating – To ensure all system and application installations are consistently on the most reliable, secure, and up-to-date versions, patches and updates should be automatically applied to all deployments without the need for user or administrator activities.
  • Enable User Self-Service – Automation should be directly integrated into user portals and app stores to allow complex workflows to be initiated with a single request. For instance, when a user selects an application to be installed on their device, the automated work flow should perform the authorization, delivery, unpackaging, configuration, and updating of the software in a way that is completely invisible to the user.
  • Incident Monitoring and Automated Remediation – Any problems with user application or operating environment should be immediately identified and reported to IT operations. Common problems that are resolved with repeatable repair processes should be automated so they can be instantly fixed before they impact user productivity.
  • Ensure Security and Compliance – All security protocols and processes should be centrally monitored, managed, and enforced through automated processes in way that minimally impacts a user’s ability to perform job tasks.

With the right automation solution in place, workers no longer need to jump through hoops to initiate IT related tasks. Instead they can focus their attention on accomplishing job requirements and achieving business goals – which is what they were hired to do in the first place.

Be sure to check out my upcoming webinar for more information on the strategic use of automation!