Automation is a fact of life for MSPs these days. Do you have an automation strategy? If you have one, it may need refreshing. It’s important to keep your automation policy up-to-date to continue increasing efficiency.
Before starting your automation journey, you should have a framework for how you will automate within your organization—and how that process will help you achieve your goals. Automation is generally a means to scale your labor against your workload. There are three components to an automation strategy that you should apply in concert with one another:
1. Identify metrics
First, identify metrics that align with achieving your organization’s goals. Focusing on these key metrics will give you a path to follow. For example, look at time per user or time per alert ticket each month, and then try to reduce one (or both). Doing this will provide a meaningful measurement for scaling your labor. This is just one metric of many you can choose. Make sure to carefully select the ones that will help you achieve your organization’s goals.
2. Analyze and reduce
You should also focus part of your strategy on, as Bruce Lee put it, “hacking away at the unessential.” Constant evaluation and re-evaluation of what you’re monitoring, alerting, and acting upon (automating) and then removing the unessential components is a key part of your strategy. This is the most effective and efficient form of automation—removing what you should not be doing.
3. Ensure and verify
Lastly, make sure you’re fulfilling your client agreements. To do this, ensure you’re applying any software or configurations to a client. Once applied, verify they’ve been applied the way you expect—allowing for any agreed upon exceptions. Clearly lay out the method of exceptions for your service team to use consistently across your automation framework. You can accomplish this part of the strategy through reactive, proactive, and self-healing automation processes.
Implementing your strategy
Once you’ve got the above components, implementing your strategy will require another three things:
- A dedicated automation engineer/team. They must be familiar with the remote monitoring and management (RMM) software you use and should be highly knowledgeable about the things you monitor and need automated. They’ll also need to know how to author that automated process and orchestrate it.
- Buy-in from senior leadership. They must be fully onboard with the automation strategy components outlined above.
- Strategy meetings with leadership. These must be done on a regular basis, monthly would be optimal. These meetings are the keystone to carrying out the strategy. There must be a constant feedback loop of metrics trending direction and selection, automation processes to implement/adjust, etc.
Just like life and business, automation is not a destination. Instead, it’s a journey you should carefully plan out and re-adjusted according to your organization’s goals.
Automation is not the end game, it’s a means to improve service delivery. Without an automation strategy, you may end up aimlessly automating without seeing any real benefit.
Evan Young is Service Desk Senior Systems Analyst at Collabrance, LLC.
Collabrance is a member of the SolarWinds MSP Technology Alliance Program (TAP). This blog is part of the TAP blog series, through which we will provide you with relevant and interesting guest blog contributions from our TAP members.