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Since the beginning of last year, we’ve written about how zero-touch IT automations can impact your entire organization roughly 1,695 times. OK, I made that number up. But we’ve written about it a lot, and we’ve done it because a zero-touch IT mindset can help you deliver a best-in-class experience and give IT valuable time back to focus on strategic projects.
Until now, we had a lot of anecdotal proof that showed how zero-touch IT automations impacted BetterCloud. We knew that we had it good, but didn’t know just how good.
But our faithful director of IT, Brian Farrell, recently crunched the numbers. The verdict? Our IT folks have automated nearly 50% of the requests they receive.
That number is staggering. So I chased Farrell down to dig deeper into how IT automated its way out of so much manual work, the impact this has on the entire company, and what it means for the future of his team.
First, a look at the raw data
I think it’s important to show you just how many requests our IT team gets over the course of a typical 6-month period. As of the writing of this blog post, 372 people work for BetterCloud. It doesn’t take a deep thinker to deduce that a zero-touch IT mindset reduced tickets from, say, 16 to 8.
As you’ll see in the chart below, we’re talking about 2,645 help desk tickets over the course of six months. Out of that total, 783 of those tickets were closed thanks to zero-touch automations. Another 457 of them were closed thanks to what Farrell describes as one-touch automations. There are only 5 members on our IT team, including Farrell. It’s safe to say that without zero-touch IT automations, they’d likely never see their loved ones.
Before we dig into how this has impacted our company, let’s talk about “zero-touch” versus “one-touch.”
A zero-touch workflow can be kicked out without any intervention from IT. Someone in HR might submit a Google Form, for example, which triggers an onboarding workflow. Farrell says that he also considers cascading workflows “zero-touch,” meaning that a workflow is triggered when a separate workflow or action is completed. A one-touch workflow, on the other hand, kicks off after IT receives an alert that directs them to take an action, such as moving a user from one Org Unit to another.
OK, so what does this all mean for BetterCloud employees? Thanks to zero-touch IT automations, the IT team was able to get to a backlog of zero in December. Now that they can resolve requests more quickly, they’ve updated their service level agreement (SLA) around requester wait time.
Here’s what we’ve been told to expect:
- Urgent: 8 hrs
- High: 1 week
- Normal: 2 weeks
- Low: 2.5 weeks
This is kind of a big deal. How many times have you sent an “urgent” help desk ticket, only to have to follow up several times over the course of a few weeks? We’ve all been there at least once, right? But now that so many time-consuming tasks have been automated, our IT team is able to consistently deliver against some seriously aggressive SLAs like the one above.
Freeing up IT’s time with automated role changes
It’s usually good news when your colleagues earn a promotion or move into new roles on different teams. In fact, it’s something we recently celebrated on our LinkedIn page (more on this in just a minute). If you’re looking for a new job, we’re hiring.
However, this presented a huge challenge for our IT team before they automated their way out of this work. Farrell actually discussed this challenge in a previous episode of The SaaSOps Show—and the impetus for automating their way out of all of that work.
As you can see in the screenshot below, this onboarding workflow is triggered whenever IT moves someone into the Marketing Org Unit. While this is an onboarding workflow by name, it handles any movement in and out of this Org Unit.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, none of the tasks that the workflow is handling are particularly difficult. But it is a long list of tasks, including adding each person to the appropriate Google Groups and Calendars, Slack channels, and product management apps, just to name a few. Thanks to the workflow above, our IT team doesn’t have to do any of that work manually.
“This can fluctuate based on the types of team changes you’re dealing with,” Farrell adds. “Some users might have 10 SaaS apps, but others might have 1,000, which makes doing this work manually really complicated.”
Automating movement in and out of Org Units and Groups
Many workflows I’ve seen in my time at BetterCloud are triggered by changes across Org Units and Groups. That prompted one simple question: Isn’t doing that manually also a pain?
Farrell agreed, which is why he says his team has begun automating Org Unit and Group updates at BetterCloud. While we don’t have any robots doing all the work for us, Farrell says his team has built out systems that enable folks like me to handle Group and Org Unit changes by ourselves.
Check out the screenshot below of a recent Google Group request our IT team received. Thanks to a subtle automation, this user was able to resolve the issue himself.
Farrell explains that this automated response is triggered whenever someone submits a help desk ticket and selects “Yes, adding/removing a person” from the “Modifying Google Group Membership” dropdown. After the ticket is submitted, the user receives an automated email that includes instructions on how to add or remove people from Google Groups. In the case above, the user quickly realized that he could resolve the issue himself and only replied to close the ticket.
In fact, the only action IT needed to take was to close the ticket after receiving a response to the automated email. Farrell says that this frees his team up to work on projects that impact the entire business.
Want to know more about those projects? So did I. Let’s chat about them.
What IT is doing with all of their free time
OK, fine. They haven’t automated themselves into a cushy retirement just yet. But rather than spending unpredictable amounts of time resetting passwords and granting app access, Farrell told me that zero-touch IT automations have freed his team up to dive deeper into complex help desk tickets.
Farrell says this has a two-pronged impact. Not only does a zero-touch IT mindset enable the team to serve as a strategic partner, but his team gets unique opportunities to uplevel their skills while resolving the more sophisticated issues that pop up in help desk tickets.
“At a typical company of our size, IT admins might spend 5-10% of their time on project-based work,” Farrell continues. “My small team of 5 on the other hand gets to dig into new issues in Windows, for example—and they get to spend roughly 20-50% of their time on project work like this, which benefits everyone at BetterCloud.”
Want another peek behind the curtain of how we achieve zero-touch IT at BetterCloud with BetterCloud? Check out this article.
Want to learn more about how a zero-touch IT mindset can impact your entire organization? Schedule a demo.