Transform IT operations with automation (2024)

Transform IT operations with automation (1)

Automation ranks high on the priority list of all operational leaders, especially those in IT operations where complexity and scale meet digital disruption and massive data explosion. There are enormous benefits to streamlining IT workflows with automation as IT teams face a lot of repetitive and robotic tasks – which become a mountain of technical debt over the years.

But then, IT also automates in earnest. Unfortunately, this automation is mostly piecemeal, disconnected, and not tied to a business strategy. Automation that’s connected to business outcomes makes better sense but it is a fact that many organizations automate first and then think about the possible business benefits. Automation as a tactical tool is low-value and hence poorly supported in most organizations.

More importantly, some of these IT organizations have not even created unified processes and workflows that can be good targets for automation.

The CIO Challenge

According to a recent report, 68% of enterprises have not realized benefits from their digital initiatives, which puts CIOs under enormous pressure to demonstrate value from these IT-led programs. To ensure success of the digital transformation that IT drives, they need to build more enduring teams, manage capacity better, and build a dynamic delivery model that can quickly adapt as objectives and key results change. With automation, IT organizations can gain speed and agility needed to meet the new expectations of a transforming workplace.

Automation Use Cases for IT Project Management

There are dozens of automation use cases for IT – pipeline management, capacity planning, project creation, project tracking, documentation, and compliance.

1. Pipeline Orchestration: Centralize and automate work requests with real-time visibility on backlogs and approval management to ensure the inundated IT pipeline keeps moving forward.

2. Capacity Planning: This mostly involves implementing automated monitoring across the vast IT real estate to track resource utilization. Automation can also help with onboarding and offboarding of IT employees and reassigning of resources across IT projects.

3. Workflow/Project Creation: The velocity of IT projects can overwhelm any seasoned project manager, which is why using templates for creation of common workflows and project blueprints for automating project creation can bring a level of consistency and speed that manual efforts cannot match.

4. Project Tracking: The use of event-based triggers to stay on top of deadlines, progress, at-risk tasks, and automated reporting can significantly reduce the time spent on each of these.

5. Documentation: The use of templates to create key documentation, project planning, and project tracking can minimize manual efforts related to version control, planning, and reporting.

6. Compliance: Enterprise compliance requirements are constantly evolving, making compliance monitoring and documentation a very intensive and tedious process. Creating an automated and a fully integrated operational process for ongoing compliance monitoring and reporting can help organizations dodge the pitfalls of non-compliance.

How to Automate?

Admittedly, AI is top of mind for most CIOs as it helps businesses draw on data patterns and machine learning to employ predictive analysis and insights for improved processes. However, given the steep investments required for AI-led process orchestration, low-code automation is still the preferred choice as it broadens the scope of who can create and deploy workflows and projects.

Smartsheet offers plenty of these low-code options for automating many project and program management tasks. Let’s explore some here:

1. Create Automated Workflows

Automated workflows are like a digital assembly line. You can create these in Smartsheet either from scratch or by using a custom template. You can place triggers, conditions, and actions together from a start block to one or more end blocks. For example, you can set triggers throughout a project for alerting people when specific tasks are assigned to them, on approaching milestones, or even to track and report on progress.

2. Customize Workflows

Conditions can be added to the workflows to create a filter for a specific path of action. For example, sending an automated email to one or more people when a certain date is reached for a task.

3. Create Smartsheet Alerts

Alerts and reminders can be added to a new workflow or even to an existing workflow to notify people and ensure that they get the right information at the right time. Alerts are reactive, as they inform people when an action has taken place. Reminders are proactive, aimed at keeping your teams aware of important dates and milestones – for example, submitting documentation for an upcoming compliance audit. These alerts can be recurring (daily, weekly, or custom) depending on the proximity of the end date for the task.

4. Create Projects and Programs

Leverage the template toolkit, which includes a meta data sheet, metric sheet, and project plan, to automatically provision projects without having to build everything from scratch. This can be done at the program level where a program workspace, consisting of program dashboards, intake and summary sheets, and blueprint source templates, will be created automatically. Creating a program will also create a Portfolio WorkApp to report on all projects that roll up to the program. Even if the project requests originate in third-party systems, such as a Jira or ServiceNow, project creation can happen seamlessly in Smartsheet.

5. Report

There are multiple options for building reports with Smartsheet – and remember all reporting is automated. Reports can be built at a granular task level (say each row is a task, then a row report can be built) or at the program/portfolio level (using grouping and summary with data drawn from multiple sheets). Reports can also be curated based on user profile.

Ready to Automate Your IT Projects and Programs?

It is time to fix process inefficiencies, automate mundane repetitive tasks and focus on high-value work by using a reliable, rule-based automation platform. Managing large and complex programs with a limited number of resources can be daunting. But, you can do that using automation to drive real-time operational visibility across the entire resource chain to meet demand. Help your teams become agile today and be able to respond to changing business needs. Learn more on how to use automation in Smartsheet.

Transform IT operations with automation (2024)
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