Motivating Your Team to Work on Automation

In this blog, we’ll focus on the best ways to motivate a NOC team or help desk team to work on automation.

You may think this sounds like a simple thing to do—tell them it’s their job and boom, we’re done. Realistically, though, it’s not that simple. There’s a lot of friction in this process. Sometimes it’s because technicians are scared for their jobs. I often hear technicians say, “I’m worried I’m going to automate myself out of a job.” Personally, I have yet to see this happen. Most of the time, the people who help the company improve and become more efficient are promoted. Managers and owners treat them well because they help create (rather than prevent) growth.

Incentivizing your team

So now we know most MSPs will experience some resistance to automation from their teams, what can we do? There are several things. Some of the more common actions include:

  • Financial incentives (i.e., offering money—$50 to $100—to anyone who writes a script)
  • Offering time off or other compensation (i.e., time off, time in lieu, dinner, or a special outing)
  • Making it part of their KPI
  • Internal contests with incentives and prizes

Another aspect to consider is how to get the wider team to suggest things to automate. If the hero builds all the automation, he gets all the credit. We also see partners offer compensation to the techs who suggest things to automate—they may not be able to build it themselves, but they will recommend things to automate so someone else can do it. This is a great way to get techs to buy into the process and have them submit ideas. Obviously, you should only give them the incentive when the automation is built, otherwise you could end up with a massive pipeline of ridiculous or impossible things to build.

Keep an eye on the costs

If you’re worried about the cost, look at it this way: say you invest $50 in the person who submitted it, and $100 in the person who built it. If the tech spends two hours building it instead of earning the business $50 per hour, you’ve invested another $100—so the total cost of this automation is $250. But the automation saves you one hour of time per week. So at a rate of $50 per week for 52 weeks, that $250 investment could save you $2,600 a year.

Offering different types of incentives, doing internal hackathons, and hosting other contests are all great ways to motivate your team. I highly recommend you look into them. But most importantly, make sure all your techs know they’re welcome to work on automation. Sometimes partners make the mistake of only telling one person to work on an automation. Anyone from your L1 techs to your L3 NOC engineer may be able to help—and they may feel empowered by it—so the more the merrier.

If you want more help with getting started with automation, check out some of our other blogs in the automation section.

If you’ve created an automation policy and would like to share it with the community, please feel free to email me at [email protected]com.

As always, don’t forget to look in the automation cookbook if you’re interested in other automation policies, script checks, and custom services.

Marc-Andre Tanguay is head automation nerd at SolarWinds MSP. You can follow him on Twitter at @automation_nerd.