Are you hiring product inventors only to put them to work in an assembly line?

Why are your inventors doing a job a robot could do, when they could be out there dreaming up new solutions?

When developers build something for the first time, they are an inventor. When developers build the same thing a second time, they’re an engineer. When they build the same thing a third time, they’re an assembly line worker.

Here are three reasons why you should considering investing in automation:

1. Leverage your teams more efficiently

Automation benefits - team work

If your development teams are saddled with having to manually repeat tasks such as deploying software, configuring environments, and generally maintaining infrastructure, they probably don’t have much time left over for problem-solving and innovation. Empowering your teams with the necessary resources to automate allows them to focus on the things that make your company money.

If you made a physical product, you wouldn’t have the inventors who made the initial prototype painstakingly repeat the process for each unit in the manufacturing stage. That would be a massive waste of time and resources. Why would it be any different if your product is software?

2. Mitigate risk

Automation - Mitigate risk

When errors happen in the IT, it is often because the functional requirements were wrong or a mistake was made while implementing them. If the error was in code, you fix it and document what went wrong and you’re done (maybe you even write a test to prevent it from ever happening again).

If the error was in a human executing a series of incorrectly documented steps, you’ve got a problem. Even if you fix the documentation, this gives you no assurance against humans making manual errors any time they have to do this task in the future. The time it takes to figure out the root cause is substantially higher, because instead of looking for an error in single file, you are relying on human memory and a bunch of random log files. So now, in addition to wasting time regularly doing things that should be automated, you are wasting time researching things that won’t offer any significant safeguard from future errors.

3. Cross-resource sharing of work

Reuse - benefits of automation

When teams within an IT department have no central guidance on automation, each team does something different. Inevitably, you wind up with a mixture of config management tools, shell scripts, executables, and manual processes shared by tribal knowledge across your department. The problem is, if someone from team A needs to help team B with their automation, they can’t be immediately helpful. Instead of looking at code that they are already using and familiar with, they may have to take a substantial amount of time to familiarize themselves with a tool they’ve never used before.

If your teams are all using a single automation tool – like Ansible – then the methodology is uniform across the whole company. It has an easy-to-understand syntax that doesn’t require you to know how to program. Everything is defined in configuration files that look like a list of human readable commands and values. If a team needs help with automation, they are much less likely to need to wait for assistance from a senior developer or administrator.

Conclusion

You’ve spent months searching the market, preparing competitive offers, and hiring the best talent possible. Clearly, this wasn’t with the intention of your engineers spending time doing menial tasks. You invest so much in acquiring the best people so they can bring you solutions, invention, and innovation.

If your engineers are spending their time manually building, deploying, testing, or performing any other consistent, repetitive task, then you would derive great value from automation. Set time aside to do an analysis of what you could benefit from by automating.

If you lack the comfort level or available resources to do it internally, ask for help from outside your company. The cost of having an outside team provide assistance with automation is a drop in the bucket compared to not addressing the issue. Making automation a priority is a must if you want to stay competitive in today’s marketplace.

Next step? Learn how to improve your application by increasing deployment frequency (case study)

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