I am a firm believer of the “work smart” attitude. In an IT environment or IT operations, doing checks over and over again everyday in every week of each month of the same year has negative impact on the business operation. Doing one or two manual checks in a small scale is possibly acceptable and as the scale grows it no longer becomes effective. One might argue that doing manual checks is key to ensuring things are working as it should be then by all means do it. Nevertheless, this should not be the end goal. If there are means and ways to do things better rather than doing manual checks, aim for it and we should not limit ourselves to make improvements in our IT environment. How? That is where monitoring tools and automation comes into play.
Implementing monitoring tools in IT operations is a must. It is not considered as a luxury anymore rather than a necessity. And most businesses or organizations regardless of their size today invest in these type of monitoring tools to ensure their organization or business has the necessary means of detecting issues or any malfunctions in their infrastructure, systems or applications. Most of today’s monitoring applications available in the market supports all types of applications or systems and its components for detecting issues that triggers an alarm or alerts on their consoles. So, what is the point of doing manual checks? If there is a monitoring in-place, integrate. It may be difficult, complex or will require time and cost but that would be a one-time investment.
Reasons why manual checks is not effective
- It is a waste of time
Doing one or two checks per day if it is really a necessity is acceptable. But imagine if a single check consumes 1 hour for beginner or let us say the person is already an expert and can do a single check in 20 minutes. Convert that 20 minutes per day in a week (20 mins. x 7 days), that is equivalent 140 minutes or 2.33 hours per week. Then, convert that hours to a year (2.33 hours x 52 weeks) and you will get an equivalent to 121.16 hours or 5 days per year for a single check. Think of it doing five checks per day then the go figure.
- It is a waste of money
Consider the calculations noted on the previous item, basically you are paying someone for an effort exerted equivalent to 121 hours to do the single check. That amount could have been used or utilized to do something else that is more effective. Like what? Paying someone for a project to do IT operation improvement. Certainly, there are sections or portions in the IT operations that can be improved. In fact, if an organization follows the true ITIL concept, phase 5 is dedicated to Continuous Service Improvement (CSI) model.
- It is a waste of resource
Looking at the calculations again, the number of man-hours of doing the checks is already a waste. The resource doing the repetitive checks could have done something different such as learning how the application works, creating ways to improve organization processes through automation or understanding how the system can be monitored effectively through the use of monitoring tools rather than by just checking if it is connected, running, active or whatever.
- It is a waste of talent
From the management perspective, ponder on the person’s doing the checks. Look at them and you might see an employee who is tired, bored or unhappy doing the same tasks everyday. If not, that person might be just doing the thing which is required and just go with the flow. With that, you are limiting the persons’ capability to grow or unlock his full potential. You will never know what might that person is capable of doing unless you release them from the shackle of doing the repetitive checks. They might be great at development, customer support, doing projects, handling cases, account management or maybe a lead that could bring more benefit to the IT operations or the entire business itself. Who knows.
When does manual checks serves as equally important?
- When there is no actual monitoring applications or software in-place that will detect issues.
- When the device or hardware cannot be monitored due to lack of feature thus requiring manual or physical check.
- When the applications or systems lacks in features to provide signals and alarms.
- If the checks performed by support groups serves as a trend for quantitative or qualitative analysis.
- If the checks are used as gauge to measure support performance for QA purposes.
- If the checks serve as source for tracking existing issues if no monitoring in place.
Benefits of using monitoring tools or automation as replacement for manual checks
Manual check sometimes depends on the performance of the resource doing the checks. It is prone to human errors thus may result inconsistent output. Sometimes, mood can affect the outcome of the checks rendering it useless when it is truly needed. Using available monitoring tools and automating some processes of the manual checks can significantly help in producing reliable output.
- Cost reduction
With the amount of effort exerted by each resource doing the checks, there’s a corresponding cost attached to it. Using automation or integrating manual checks to any available monitoring tools, efforts can then be reduced which in turn becomes a cost saving. Cost saving in a way that support groups can do other tasks that is more important than doing manual checks.
Support groups or personnel doing the same things everyday through manual checks tends to feel bored that reduced their productivity. By giving them the opportunity to do other tasks than by just doing manual checks, the doors of opportunities opens up that enables them to grow making them feel more active and happy. It is no secret that positive mood increases productivity regardless of what industry you work in.
Indeed, there are things that still needs to be performed manually in an IT environment or organization like for example in a Data Center environment, air conditioning temperature and humidity or battery charged reading in Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) still requires manual checks through specific consoles directly attached to the device or hardware. Nevertheless, these devices are being replaced with new smart technologies that integrates monitoring tools or the use of IoT for efficient and productive use.
If there is no other way to stop manual checks due to lack of features or capabilities in the applications or system then that is fine but don’t stop finding for solution. Turn that challenge as an opportunity to improve. Do you think Google, Facebook, HP and other major companies and service providers do manual checks? I do not think so. So, what is hindering smaller companies from doing the same thing?
Doing manual checks over and over again does not belong to the “work smart” attitude.
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