IT teams spend most of their time fixing basic problems. Automation could free them to focus on more rewarding work
The IT department often gets an unfair reputation. When IT decision makers are realistic about whether an idea can be achieved, or whether their team has the resources and capacity to help with a problem, they are often viewed as being negative, pessimistic or obstructive. IT is often used as a scapegoat, or pointed to as the bottleneck in a project.
A factor behind this reputation is that IT departments must often fill the role of firefighters – they are constantly required to fix problems across the business. These basic tasks consume time and energy that could be better spent solving challenges that could create value or drive revenue.
Since the start of the pandemic, this problem has only worsened. When companies needed to adopt remote working practices, IT teams had to work around the clock to ensure that basic operations were functional, as well as make sure employees could work productively from home.
The fundamental issue facing IT is that the number of requests a department receives will usually exceed its capacity. But is that just the natural order of business, or is there a solution at hand?
As we progress into 2022, automation could be the answer to the prayers of overworked IT professionals. By automating routine tasks and recurrent requests, such as onboarding, email setups and password resets, IT departments can significantly scale up their spare capacity. This would give them the much-needed time and resources to set about adding value across the organisation, whether that’s by accelerating response times to customer enquiries or helping to boost lead conversion.
At Workato, we help to enable automation through our world-class automation platform, which can empower both IT departments and business users to thrive in their roles and organisations, helping them to excel in today’s increasingly digital economy. By using a mix of API-based and UI-based automation, Workato can ensure companies have the right tool for the right problem.
For example, we helped a company automate a process for getting C-suite approval. The previous manual system required sending and reading several emails. The company’s IT department suggested automating approvals through the collaboration tool Slack, leading to faster approvals, greater productivity and an overall better workplace experience.
Some may not agree that automation will address their problems. They may have previously experienced robotic process automation (RPA) systems that needed a great deal of babysitting and therefore still sucked up much of their time. However, Workato enables the creation of automations at an estimate of half the cost in resources when compared with typical RPA solutions.
Similarly, others may see the word automation and fear that it will render them redundant. But this rarely happens in practice: automation is best used to replace boring, monotonous and low-value tasks such as admin, paperwork or uploading documents, allocating the time saved to empower employees to focus on solving more rewarding and productive challenges.
For instance, Workato helped Slack to automate its quote-to-cash process, replacing a fully-manual process involving a great deal of data entry and sending contracts out to clients with an automated system that was 90 per cent no-touch. This freed up time for staff to do other more important work.
But as well as saving time and boosting productivity through automation, IT teams can transition from being firefighters to project managers capable of creating centres of excellence which can be replicated across the business.
In essence, this means that instead of simply responding to requests from other departments – whether it’s HR asking for the employee onboarding process to be streamlined through automation, or the finance team requesting cash reconciliation to be automated – IT could train these other teams to create workflow automations themselves.
In this way, the IT department becomes perceived as enablers instead of a bottleneck. Departments can build their own automations, while IT focuses on governance and oversight to make sure everything is functioning correctly.
This shift from doing the office grunt work to managing high-value projects also offers IT professionals the chance to pursue their career goals or focus on training and personal development. This will allow them to do more creative work and come up with new, profitable ideas.
In 2022, automation is no longer a buzzword – it is now a C-suite issue, impacting a business’s top and bottom lines. Workato allows executives to measure the amount of money automation creates or saves – something not all software can do effectively or convincingly.
Automation can also help unlock the true potential of IT. Instead of being a costly black hole, IT teams can become a bigger stakeholder in the company, adding value and performing more productive work. Let’s make 2022 the year that IT is redesigned and unleashed to help businesses transform and adapt to the demands of our modern, ever-changing digital economy.
To learn more about how automation can empower your IT department, schedule a demo today.
by Robert Ekstrom, VP & GM EMEA, Workato