Act now on SAP automation and escape the automation paradox
In the last few weeks, I have had a number of conversations with customers about what we have come to call the Automation Paradox.
What happens is that organizations seeking to automate manual processes are so busy, that they cannot find the time to invest in automating in the first place, and so they find themselves frozen - unable to move forward.
I took some time to talk to customers who got through this, and found a number of themes that may help you get past this.
Blocks are often a state of mind
Before getting started, you need to understand that mental blocks are often just that - in the mind. If you make the conscious decision to move past this, then you can enable your organization to progress. If you believe in the block then it is possible to create excuses, and continue to stall.
MBOs or OKRs can help
It depends on the sort of organization you are, but if you practice Management by Objectives (MBOs) or Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) then your leadership team can drive change by including automation objectives into those frameworks. Bonuses are often paid according to objectives, which helps sharpen the mind.
Consider the culture
We sometimes find that culture can work against customers - often when there is a big team that has always done things the same way. This may sound counterintuitive in this day and age, but if you have this situation - no matter whether it is an in-house or outsourced team - then you have to consider the cultural change impact.
Simplify the scope
I have personally seen Avantra customers spend a huge amount of time defining AIOps principles, rules, and customizing the solution with the aim of getting a perfect framework - all before getting any benefits. This is entirely the wrong way to be thinking about automation and AIOps, because it pushes out the time to get any benefits. But, how can you simplify the scope?
Implement the standard product
We often suggest our customers implement our standard product first, without spending a ton of time on configuration. Why is that? Avantra has hundreds of predefined best practices, checks, and monitors which hunt out problems in the environment. All of the manual work you do today to prevent downtime and streamline operations is going to be automated out pf the box, which starts to give you time to…
Resolve underlying problems
Years of experience has taught us that most SAP customers have tens - or even hundreds - of misconfigurations and issues that exist in the environment. Maybe it’s some incorrect parameters, inconsistent environments, periodic network failures. These are the things that are taking up all your time today, and once you’ve got Avantra installed you can start to get them resolved. Customers then see a 10-20x reduction in incidents in the months following the Avantra implementation.
Implement asset and incident management integration
Many customers don’t choose to do this on day one, because Avantra is going to point out a lot of problems in the beginning, and it can be a distraction to implement into an existing ITSM environment in the early days. Instead, wait until the environment is working well and then synchronize the configuration management database and incidents.
A vicious circle or a virtuous circle?
Hopefully you are starting to understand that we can turn this “too busy” mentality into a “time to build” mentality. Once you have the underlying problems resolved, you can start to see the wood for the trees, and you can move into really thinking about AIOps and automation.
Designing sophisticated automata
Our customers then move into the phase of building sophisticated automata with our low-code/no-code environment. For some customers this is about data refreshes, for others it’s about customers-specific checks to find very specific situations. Either way, our customers look for the things which take up time in their environment, and they focus on optimizing those one-by-one with automation.
With any automation strategy, you need to create time to build, and the best way to do this is to start small. With every step you take, you will put time back in the bank, and create a virtuous circle of automation energy. The best way out of the automation paradox is to get started as soon as possible. The payback will come later.