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Manual execution is the first step to effective automation

Nadhan on ‎04-30-2013 03:05 PM

“Despite the appeal of IT automation, don't rush to automate everything” says Alistair Cooke in this article in TechTarget (login required). He also says “The only thing worse than not automating is trying to automate too much.”  I would extend this concern to “automating the wrong processes” or “automating processes that are not executed right in the first place.” What can enterprises do to ensure that the right processes are automated? Let’s do it right manually first — the remaining steps are intuitive.


Standardization of processes and tools creates a fertile ground for effective automation. However, to even attain a standardized state, manual execution — with great precision — is a vital first step.

 Manual process.png

Here are the 5 simple steps enterprises can take to evolve to an effectively automated environment:


1. Manual Execution. Identification and manual execution of the process steps while making adjustments in each iteration.


2. Process definition. Documentation of the process that represents a logical flow raising and handling exceptions.


3. Process validation. Execution of this documented process by peers with little to no guidance.


4. Extended application. Extension of this process to multiple scenarios to make it more reusable on a wider scale.


5. Incremental automation. Automate the portions of this process that can be easily executed, using enabling tooling components while handling known exceptions.


But that’s not all. Along with automation comes the need to maintain the automated environment. Otherwise, we would have had all passenger airplanes fly on auto-pilot without any human pilots.


Following the steps listed above facilitates the evolution to the automation of the right processes executed in the right way:

- Manual execution gives us a feel for what needs to be done.


- Process definition ensures that there is a logical flow to the steps being executed manually.


- Process validation validates that the process can be consistently executed by different users, and is therefore a good candidate for automation.


- Extended application increases the potential returns from automation.


- Incremental automation ensures that the correct segments of the process are automated first.

Assembly Line.png


Let us take some real-life instances of the evolution to an automated environment:


Even so, like Cooke asserts, there are some processes that are never meant to be automated. Think about it. Will we ever get to a point where we can automate the process of writing a blog? NOT!! Definitely not on this Journey through Enterprise IT Services Blog because one can never fully automate the mysterious workings of the human brain. I am sure even Big Data will agree with me.


How about you? What is the level of automation in your enterprise? What is your approach to automating the right processes? How do you ensure that they are being executed right?


Connect with Nadhan on: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Journey Blog.




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