The conventional wisdom has it that American manufacturing is beginning to die. Plant closings, mass layoffs, and rusting industrial cities are now supposed to characterize that portion of our economy. When you look at the actual data, however, this grim picture shows anything but the truth.
The inefficient, manual, repetitive task is engrained into the day-to-day operations of most businesses. It manifests itself in a variety of ways.
Here are a few of the most common:
- The cutting and pasting of data from one report into a spreadsheet in order to produce "the real" report
- The upkeep and use of an obsolete system or software “because it contains valuable information”
- The laborious reconciliation of timesheets, billings, expenses or “non-accounting” data
- Unsecured paper/document-based messaging or communication workflows
Answering Automation - Project Planning Questions
In this series, we set out to answer some common strategic and project questions about Automation. In the previous blog posts, we’ve talked about what automation is, and how to decide what functions and processes should be automated. Now we are going to tackle project planning questions, or issues that come up once you the target of automation is chosen, such as:Where do you start?
How far do you go?
How do you know when you are done (at least for the moment)?
Previously, we’ve talked about some broad concepts, but these questions are a little more narrow and practical.
Let’s dig in!
Answering Automation - What should we Automate?
In our last blog article (What is Automation?), we talked about some of the broad, common questions about tackling an automation initiative in IT. We said that automation is the use of applications, integrations, and runbooks to configure solutions that remove manual work from IT, and that is important because it reduces costs, improves accuracy, and overall improves the customer experience.
We also broke out automation into three buckets:
- Apps, which are tools that automate some work in a standard way.
- Integrations, which let systems talk to each other and perform automation that way.
- Runbooks, which take a complex process and work through it in multiple technologies from end to end.
Lately, Microsoft has been making a lot of hay about PowerApps. And with such a catchy name, we’ve been getting a lot of questions from our customers that all sound a lot like:
- “Hey, what is PowerApps?"
- “Hey, will PowerApps (insert vague descriptor)?"
- “Hey, how can I get PowerApps?”
What is automation?
Automation is a broad set of practices, and never is that truer than when an organization sets out to automate a function, process, or solution. There are several questions that get asked when an initiative to automate begins, such as:
- Where do you start?
- How far do you go?
- How do you know when you are done (at least for the moment)?
In this blog series, we are going to help you answer these questions and give you tools to help educate your organization and promote automation throughout your enterprise.