For IT leaders looking for guidance or examples of an IT automation strategy that works hard to maximize business value, consider some pragmatic results from BMC’s own award-winning IT organization. Last week, I had the privilege of meeting John Richey, Sr. Director, IT Enablement for the Office of CIO, and Bob Hayward, Sr. Manager, IT Enablement in the Automation Center of Excellence. The topic of discussion was our IT journey and the role automation played in changing the internal perception that the group did not respond fast enough to business needs. It began with a simple mantra – “Simplify, Standardize, and Automate.” They brought that mantra to life with and IT Automation Strategy that followed these best practice guidelines:
- Change the work – shift from reactive firefighting to proactive execution.
- Move the work – allocate the right job to the right skill set.
- Eliminate the work – find more opportunities to automate or retire work altogether.
Surprisingly, driving more automation into the organization did not come naturally for IT and they changed their approach. IT leadership realized they would need better training and incentives to move the ball forward. Rather than pull in highly skilled engineers to address common issues, they empowered skills down the stack to handle more appropriate volumes of issues. They focused on one functional area of the business at a time to map infrastructure to business processes and business services. Next IT staff were aligned to meet the needs of the line of business. Soon, IT began to act like entrepreneurs, driving more innovation. By aligning their overall IT strategy to the business strategy of the company as well as creating a culture where eliminating or automating work is rewarded, they were able to redefine their catalog into Business Services (such as sales or marketing automation), and Shared Services (such as telephony, or email). Self-service, mobile access, and automation became the order of the day. And results became easier to measure and share.
For me, the obvious benefits of IT automation centered on Speed with clear results to BMC’s bottom line such as:
- Automatic access grants to Salesforce.com saved the end-user 1 day of productivity and avoided 11,520 hours per quarter of wasted time.
- Account lock out and password resets saved 3,288 hours for the Service Desk per quarter and clearly impacted employee productivity significantly.
- Automated self-service requests for guest WiFi access returned 4,263 hours of productivity per quarter.
- Automated provisioning of virtual machines (VMs) saved an average of 3000 minutes across the process for analysts, approvers, and platform systems teams.
Of course, there are many examples of Cost savings such as automatically terminating telephone or mobile phone services when off-boarding an employee or contractor which saves tens of thousands of dollars per quarter. This activity alone free up about 525 hours for staff to work on more important tasks. But the most interesting thing for me was to learn about the impact of automation of Risk.
Let me highlight just a few examples below:
- Sensors detect systems that are not compliant with desktop security policies and automatically block the network port, avoiding 2,296 hours of exposure per year and saving least 60 minutes for each automatic port block.
- SOX scans identify OS and application vulnerabilities that trigger automation to collect and assign only the relevant data to the appropriate support teams in the form of Remedy incidents for accountability and escalation, saving approximately 8 to 16 effort hours per audit cycle and 45 minutes of IT effort per incident.
- An automated audit is conducted daily to ensure no user is accessing the network without being a member of an approved SSL VPN group and that passwords are in compliance with guidelines. If an issue is found, automation triggers immediate corrective action and represents approximately 4 effort hours, or ½ FTE in manual effort. Of course, avoiding any malicious intent is priceless.
Imagine how cool it is to simply scan a QR code on my mobile phone to see if a conference room is available for a meeting. That is just one more innovation driven from BMC’s IT team that make my life easier. It may seem minor in the grand scheme of things but it all adds up. John said that BMC had automated more than 2,000 items last year alone and the team continues to build a healthy backlog of new automation ideas. It all started with a high level IT strategy that aligned to the business and leveraged IT automation best practices that included people, process, and tools. For more ideas on how to create your automation strategy, refer to www.bmc.com/passport.
Follow me on Twitter to see my future blog posts.