“Complexity kills,” outgoing Microsoft executive Ray Ozzie wrote in his departing memo to employees. "Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT. Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use. Complexity introduces security challenges. Complexity causes administrator frustration."
Ozzie’s memo was written in 2010 and, since then, IT environments have not gotten any simpler. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Not only are organizations grappling with increased IT system complexity, in many cases, they’re also now doing so with one hand tied behind their back. More than 47 million workers quit their jobs last year. Whether you prefer to think of it as the Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle, the result is that organizations can no longer take for granted the staffing resources required to manage their IT systems on a day-to-day basis.
And, for financial institutions, the so-called “war for talent” among skilled tech workers threatens to handicap their ability to innovate in order to keep pace with the expectations of their members and customers.
The good news is that workload automation and orchestration (WLA&O) can substantially reduce an organization’s dependency on staff to perform routine, process-oriented tasks, allowing for greater operational agility as skilled IT staff are redeployed to more strategically important initiatives.
Increasingly, however, organizations of all kinds need assistance implementing, managing and optimizing their workload automation and orchestration software in order to maximize its operational benefits. In fact, automation management can become a full-time job. That is where Managed Automation Services (MAS) come in.
What are Managed Automation Services?
“Managed Automation Services” refers to an added layer of support that is available to organizations already running workload automation and orchestration software. With MAS, organizations that have a complex IT infrastructure gain access to a third-party team of automation engineers who can assist with the automation, monitoring and management of automated systems.
If an organization loses its internal automation administrator, an MAS team can keep operations running by helping optimize automated processes, running incident response, building error logic into the operations and more.
Available at different levels depending on an organization’s requirements, automation management support focuses on three main areas:
Systems monitoring & maintenance: The MAS team will monitor and maintain the underlying automation systems. This can include things like performing upgrades, installing new components and monitoring that all components are functioning properly — from ensuring that notifications are being sent from the system to confirming that the automation platform is communicating with the database.
Consulting: Understanding the need for automation management and understanding what specific operations an organization should be automating are two different things. A qualified MAS team will be able to offer expert insights to uncover new opportunities for automation on a single project or across the organization.
Operational support: A skilled MAS team’s primary goal should be to optimize a client’s operations. Automated processes still require regular attention to ensure goals are being met and all opportunities are being capitalized on. With MAS, experts monitor automated applications and processes, resolve alerts and proactively optimize automation efforts.
The benefits of Managed Automation Services
An agile third-party MAS team becomes an extension of your organization by overseeing back-end automation management so in-house IT teams can focus on strategic priorities. Managed Automation Services can have a multiplier effect, enabling an organization to broaden the benefits available through workload automation software without having to dedicate internal resources to operate the platform autonomously.
MAS teams are comprised of automation engineers with a deep understanding of how to apply workload automation software to solve business challenges. As IT environments become increasingly complex, a robust workload automation tool can orchestrate tasks across multiple systems to achieve specific predefined objectives and outcomes. An MAS team can help your in-house operators define those desired outcomes and then optimize the workload automation software across systems in order to achieve them.
In addition to supporting an organization’s workload automation software implementation and management, a Managed Automation Services team can identify new ways to leverage the power of automation and apply it to other areas within your organization, such as:
Document imaging and storage
Business intelligence and reporting
And because a qualified MAS team will have direct experience working with other organizations in your industry, it can apply that experience to help you achieve even greater levels of operational efficiency.
If you are a bank or credit union, for example, a Managed Automation Services team should have experience working with other financial institutions to automate tasks related to loan origination and processing or online and mobile banking, for example.
How Managed Automation Services work
With an Operations as a Service (OaaS) model, Managed Automation Services augment the power of workload automation and orchestration software with the expert guidance of automation engineers who understand the platform better than anyone else.
Organizations with MAS support will have a dedicated automation engineer work with you to determine what processes can benefit from automation and how our automation initiatives can be integrated into your existing IT environment. From there, they’ll monitor and maintain your automation efforts in accordance with your goals and defined success metrics.
In my experience, both as a systems administrator and as the head of an MAS team, flexibility is critical. With a flexible and agile automation management partner, you can decide how much attention you and your team need. Whether you want a helping hand in certain areas of your automation or you prefer to be completely hands-off, a tiered MAS program can provide as much or as little automation management support as your individual organization requires.
Some of the areas where MAS can be utilized include:
Integrating complex digital infrastructure across one or multiple instances of your WLA software to automate all necessary jobs efficiently.
Achieving lights out processing to automate recurring processes at all hours while still having access to 24/7 monitoring.
Enhancing security and compliance while achieving greater efficiency with experts in the automation of financial institutions.
Streamlining ETL processes and data management while reducing errors and time spent troubleshooting systems.
Keep Ops going when your team isn’t available
At SMA Technologies, we’ve been helping clients maximize their automation efforts for more than 30 years. With the introduction of OpCon, our own workload automation and orchestration platform, we revolutionized the automation industry, liberating our customers from repetitive tasks and helping them redeploy resources where they’re needed most. MAS goes one step further, giving clients direct support from the expert engineers behind our world-class platform.
As IT systems become more complex and the Great Resignation makes securing IT talent more difficult, SMA Technologies’ Managed Automation Services team keeps your IT environment up to date and your IT resources focused on where they’re needed most. Depending on the level of support you need, we can work side-by-side with your in-house operators or function autonomously as your full-service automation management partner.
Disclaimer: At this time, Managed Automation Services are only available in the U.S., but stay tuned for our EMEA offering.
About the author:
Merly Thomas is the Director of Customer Support Operations, overseeing the Managed Automation Services team. She leads her team to consistently meet SLAs and provide operational support by identifying and driving innovative automation solutions for our clients.
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