Good managers will use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure performance of people, departments, products and even the entire company. KPIs are inherent within cultures that aim to make good decisions based on observations and data rather than a finger in-the-air approach.
Why then does automation itself not have KPIs? Typically, companies that purchase products for building business and IT workflows have some important processes in mind that they wish to automate – perhaps a runbook or a frequent service request. Other examples might be daily routines, server provisioning, night processing or staff onboarding. Products that provide the automation will have tools to measure and monitor defined processes, but how many processes in the entire business, service or IT area can be automated?
Accidental or Architected Automation
In my observations, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technologies have driven a tighter focus on the overall opportunity for automation. This is largely because business analysts are more often associated with these projects and because workflows are better defined within business units.
Conversely, IT automation is often driven opportunistically, implementing automation on a problem-by-problem basis. This approach is likely to lead to multiple products and multiple silos of automation that will be increasingly difficult to manage. Does this sound familiar? Comment below or sign up to be notified of our upcoming webinars.
TIP: Start talking to your teams in terms of processes and workflows rather than tasks they perform. This really is important in changing a culture. Remember that as a leader you need to say something a minimum of 7 times until it’s believed and retained, so keep saying it!
Whether you are introducing an automation product for the first time or looking to drive further adoption, do not forget the business analysis. Allocate time for an automation assessment to document the overall automation strategy and goals. Interview DBA's, I&O leaders, service managers, operators, developers, application owners and so forth.
TIP: Focus on team leads and long serving individuals. Make sure you capture their knowledge before it’s too late.
To encourage this analysis, I would advise that you initially focus on the larger (perhaps more time consuming) processes like backups, disaster recovery, night processing, securing the on-line day, onboarding new personnel, BI data support, application upgrades, patches, deployments, provisioning, compliance checks and so on. Once you have a high-level strategy and have mapped out all the larger processes, you can begin to monitor success against that list.
Even if your new automation dashboard shows only percent of processes automated, that is a fantastic start. Other good KPI's could include IT tasks automated this month, workflows completed, service requests responded to automatically, reports scheduled, and Self-Service requests. The real power of KPI’s is that they invoke the competitive nature and desire to please that most people take from their childhoods into adult life.
TIP: To really motivate teams, display automation KPI’s for different departments or teams and watch them compete. Gamification is a very powerful force.