Let's talk automation...

IT support and solutions can be very manual and labour intensive for IT Teams. This can easily result in your technical departments doubling in size or workload if you do not allow time to reflect upon your current processes.

Several years ago when I worked for an aspiring Managed Service Provider I began analysing their IT Support and Solutions processes. Firstly reflecting upon current staffing levels and secondly how they could improve service levels for their clients. Up until this point this particular MSP did not question the status quo and took IT Support at face value. Below is how I used automation to transform them from being a rigid and reactive IT support company to an agile proactive IT company.

This is when I first began investigating Remote Monitoring & Management platforms.

Where 'I.T.' all began


The transition from break fix to proactively managed

Like many IT professionals my first few jobs were firmly within a break fix capacity, reacting to support cases rather than managing them. The transition to pro-active was a simple mindset to overcome, but finding the technical tools to implement it was a little less straight forward.

This technical challenge was overcome with discovering Remote Monitoring and Management platforms.

Remote Monitoring and Management platform

In terms of your IT support and automation your RMM platform is key to your success. Your platform needs to be able to trigger events upon a failure ticket. What do I mean by an event?

If "X" happens do "Y" to fix it
Most tools out there are just monitoring tools. They can identify an issue but will just create a ticket to let you know there is an issue. Whereas a good RMM will create a ticket and then trigger an event to remedy the issue. 

The lack of event triggering will result in you still being reactive with a slight degree of proactivity, tickets are useful but event automation gives true proactivity. Understanding your IT Teams workflows will be essential in achieving true proactive automation and will save hours of time manually diagnosing and fixing.

Work flow example:

Lets start with some real world scenarios I'm sure you all can relate too. Firstly a Hard Disk Failure - The old school manual work flow (Engineer time required 60 to 120mins):
  1. Often an Engineer will see a 'Red Light' and disk failure when physically looking at a server or SAN
  2. Engineer has to gather serial numbers and check if the part is still under warranty
  3. Engineer calls vendor support
  4. Vendor support team checks all details
  5. Vendor confirms warranty and issues replacement
  6. 24/48 hours later new disk arrives and engineer replaces
  7. Normal computing continues
Hard Disk Failure - The new school automated workflow (Engineering time required 0 mins):
  1. RMM Identifies a Potential Disk Failure
  2. RMM triggers a support ticket and replacement disk request to Vendor automatically
  3. Disk arrives onsite with a vendor engineer and is replaced
It is hard to see any negatives from implementing monitoring and automation. Not only do you reduce the time it takes to find an issue but streamline the fix, giving maximum uptime to your end users.

Another workflow example

This time focusing on an application

Picture this, your the first one in the office and can't login! Nightmare, we've all been there. Automation could have saved the day and here is how... Lets say in this instance your companies login application has crashed. The RMM will identify that this service is not working. With automation it will then attempt to restart the application for normal service to continue. Meaning this has zero impact on your end users and is resolved without an engineer lifting a finger.

Conclusion

Your company needs IT automation as much as it needs automated business systems. IT automation will increase productivity within all aspects of your business, from delivering new projects, ongoing support/ maintenance, and user experience.

About

Author - Matt Shore
Matt likes to investigate new technologies to see how they work and what business value they could potentially add. He has various interest from Containers, IT Security, multimedia editing, and coding at an amateur level.