Get Instant Access
to This Blueprint

Infrastructure Operations icon

Reduce Manual Repetitive Work With IT Automation

Free up time for value-adding jobs.

  • IT staff are overwhelmed with manual repetitive work.
  • You have little time for projects.
  • You cannot move as fast as the business wants.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Optimize before you automate.
  • Foster an engineering mindset.
  • Build a process to iterate.

Impact and Result

  • Begin by automating a few tasks with the highest value to score quick wins.
  • Define a process for rolling out automation, leveraging SDLC best practices.
  • Determine metrics and continually track the success of the automation program.

Reduce Manual Repetitive Work With IT Automation Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read this Executive Brief to understand why you should reduce manual repetitive work with IT automation.

1. Identify automation candidates

Select the top automation candidates to score some quick wins.

2. Map and optimize process flows

Map and optimize process flows for each task you wish to automate.

3. Build a process for managing automation

Build a process around managing IT automation to drive value over the long term.

4. Build automation roadmap

Build a long-term roadmap to enhance your organization's automation capabilities.

webinar status icon

Available Soon


Applications Priorities Report 2024

Check back soon to watch this webinar on demand.

Reduce Manual Repetitive Work With IT Automation

Free up time for value-adding jobs.


Automation cuts both ways.

Automation can be very, very good, or very, very bad.
Do it right, and you can make your life a whole lot easier.
Do it wrong, and you can suffer some serious pain.
All too often, automation is deployed willy-nilly, without regard to the overall systems or business processes in which it lives.
IT professionals should follow a disciplined and consistent approach to automation to ensure that they maximize its value for their organization.

Derek Shank,
Research Analyst, Infrastructure & Operations
Info-Tech Research Group

Executive summary


  • IT staff are overwhelmed with manual repetitive work.
  • You have little time for projects.
  • You cannot move as fast as the business wants.


  • Automation is simple to say, but hard to implement.
  • Vendors claim automation will solve all your problems.
  • You have no process for managing automation.


  • Begin by automating a few tasks with the highest value to score quick wins.
  • Define a process for rolling out automation, leveraging SDLC best practices.
  • Determine metrics and continually track the success of the automation program.

Info-Tech Insight

  1. Optimize before you automate.The current way isn’t necessarily the best way.
  2. Foster an engineering mindset.Your team members may not be process engineers, but they should learn to think like one.
  3. Build a process to iterate.Effective automation can't be a one-and-done. Define a lightweight process to manage your program.

Infrastructure & operations teams are overloaded with work

  • DevOps and digital transformation initiatives demand increased speed.
  • I&O is still tasked with security and compliance and audit.
  • I&O is often overloaded and unable to keep up with demand.

Manual repetitive work (MRW) sucks up time

  • Manual repetitive work is a fact of life in I&O.
  • DevOps circles refer to this type of work simply as “toil.”
  • Toil is like treading water: it must be done, but it consumes precious energy and effort just to stay in the same place.
  • Some amount of toil is inevitable, but it's important to measure and cap toil, so it does not end up overwhelming your team's whole capacity for engineering work.

Info-Tech Insight

Follow our methodology to focus IT automation on reducing toil.

Manual hand-offs create costly delays

  • Every time there is a hand-off, we lose efficiency and productivity.
  • In addition to the cost of performing manual work itself, we must also consider the impact of lost productivity caused by the delay of waiting for that work to be performed.

Every queue is a tire fire

Queues create waste and are extremely damaging. Like a tire fire, once you get started, they’re almost impossible to stamp out!

Increase queues if you want

  • “More overhead”
  • “Lower quality”
  • “More variability”
  • “Less motivation”
  • “Longer cycle time”
  • “Increased risk”

(Source: Edwards, citing Donald G. Reinersten: The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development )

Increasing complexity makes I&O’s job harder

Every additional layer of complexity multiplies points of failure. Beyond a certain level of complexity, troubleshooting can become a nightmare.

Today, Operations is responsible for the outcomes of a full stack of a very complex, software-defined, API-enabled system running on infrastructure they may or may not own.
– Edwards

Growing technical debt means an ever-rising workload

  • Enterprises naturally accumulate technical debt.
  • All technology requires care and feeding.
  • I&O cannot control how much technology it’s expected to support.
  • I&O faces a larger and larger workload as technical debt accumulates.

The systems built under each new technology paradigm never fully replace the systems built under the old paradigms. It’s not uncommon for an enterprise to have an accumulation of systems built over 10-15 years and have no budget, risk appetite, or even a viable path to replace them all. With each shift, who bares [SIC] the brunt of the responsibility for making sure the old and the new hang together? Operations, of course. With each new advance, Operations juggles more complexity and more layers of legacy technologies than ever before.
– Edwards

Most IT shops can’t have a dedicated engineering team

  • In most organizations, the team that builds things is best equipped to support them.
  • Often the knowledge to design systems and the knowledge to run those systems naturally co-exists in the same personnel resources.
  • When your I&O team is trying to do engineering work, they can end up frequently interrupted to perform operational tasks.
A Venn Diagram is depicted which compares People who build things with People who run things. the two circles are almost completely overlapping, indicating the strong connection between the two groups.

Personnel resources in most IT organizations overlap heavily between “build” and “run.”

IT operations must become an engineering practice

  • Usually you can’t double your staff or double their hours.
  • IT professionals must become engineers.
  • We do this by automating manual repetitive work and reducing toil.
Two scenarios are depicted. The first scenario is found at a hypothetical work camp, in which one employee performs the task of manually splitting firewood with an axe. In order to split twice as much firewood, the employee would need to spend twice the time. The second scenario is Engineering Operations. in this scenario, a wood processor is used to automate the task, allowing far more wood to be split in same amount of time.

Build your Sys Admin an Iron Man suit

Some CIOs see a Sys Admin and want to replace them with a Roomba. I see a Sys Admin and want to build them an Iron Man suit.
– Deepak Giridharagopal, CTO, Puppet

Two Scenarios are depicted. In one, an employee is replaced by automation, represented by a Roomba, reducing costs by laying off a single employee. In the second scenario, the single employee is given automated tools to do their job, represented by an iron-man suit, leading to a 10X boost in employee productivity.

Use automation to reduce risk


When we automate, we can make sure we do something the same way every time and produce a consistent result.

Auditing and Compliance

We can design an automated execution that will ship logs that provide the context of the action for a detailed audit trail.


  • Enterprise environments are continually changing.
  • When context changes, so does the procedure.
  • You can update your docs all you want, but you can't make people read them before executing a procedure.
  • When you update the procedure itself, you can make sure it’s executed properly.

Follow Info-Tech’s approach: Start small and snowball

  • It’s difficult for I&O to get the staffing resources it needs for engineering work.
  • Rather than trying to get buy-in for resources using a “top down” approach, Info-Tech recommends that I&O score some quick wins to build momentum.
  • Show success while giving your team the opportunity to build their engineering chops.

Because the C-suite relies on upwards communication — often filtered and sanitized by the time it reaches them — executives don’t see the bottlenecks and broken processes that are stalling progress.
– Andi Mann

Info-Tech’s methodology employs a targeted approach

  • You aren’t going to automate IT operations end-to-end overnight.
  • In fact, such a large undertaking might be more effort than it’s worth.
  • Info-Tech’s methodology employs a targeted approach to identify which candidates will score some quick wins.
  • We’ll demonstrate success, gain momentum, and then iterate for continual improvement.

Invest in automation to reap long-term rewards

  • All too often people think of automation like a vacuum cleaner you can buy once and then forget.
  • The reality is you need to perform care and feeding for automation like for any other process or program.
  • To reap the greatest rewards you must continually invest in automation – and invest wisely.

To get the full ROI on your automation, you need to treat it like an employee. When you hire an employee, you invest in that person. You spend time and resources training and nurturing new employees so they can reach their full potential. The investment in a new employee is no different than your investment in automation.– Edwards

Measure the success of your automation program

Example of How to Estimate Dollar Value Impact of Automation
Metric Timeline Target Value
Hours of manual repetitive work 12 months 20% reduction $48,000/yr.(1)
Hours of project capacity 18 months 30% increase $108,000/yr.(2)
Downtime caused by errors 6 months 50% reduction $62,500/yr.(3)

1 15 FTEs x 80k/yr.; 20% of time on MRW, reduced by 20%
2 15 FTEs x 80k/yr.; 30% project capacity, increased by 30%
3 25k/hr. of downtime.; 5 hours per year of downtime caused by errors

Automating failover for disaster recovery


Industry Financial Services
Source Interview


An IT infrastructure manager had established DR failover procedures, but these required a lot of manual work to execute. His team lacked the expertise to build automation for the failover.


The manager hired consultants to build scripts that would execute portions of the failover and pause at certain points to report on outcomes and ask the human operator whether to proceed with the next step.


The infrastructure team reduced their achievable RTOs as follows:
Tier 1: 2.5h → 0.5h
Tier 2: 4h → 1.5h
Tier 3: 8h → 2.5h
And now, anyone on the team could execute the entire failover!

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

“Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful.”

Guided Implementation

“Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track.”


“We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place.”


“Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project.”

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

Reduce Manual Repetitive Work With IT Automation – project overview

1. Select Candidates 2. Map Process Flows 3. Build Process 4. Build Roadmap
Best-Practice Toolkit

1.1 Identify MRW pain points

1.2 Drill down pain points into tasks

1.3 Estimate the MRW involved in each task

1.4 Rank the tasks based on value and ease

1.5 Select top candidates and define metrics

1.6 Draft project charters

2.1 Map process flows

2.2 Review and optimize process flows

2.3 Clarify logic and finalize future-state process flows

3.1 Kick off your test plan for each automation

3.2 Define process for automation rollout

3.3 Define process to manage your automation program

3.4 Define metrics to measure success of your automation program

4.1 Build automation roadmap

Guided Implementations

Introduce methodology.

Review automation candidates.

Review success metrics.

Review process flows.

Review end-to-end process flows.

Review testing considerations.

Review automation SDLC.

Review automation program metrics.

Review automation roadmap.

Onsite Workshop Module 1:
Identify Automation Candidates
Module 2:
Map and Optimize Processes
Module 3:
Build a Process for Managing Automation
Module 4:
Build Automation Roadmap
Phase 1 Results:
Automation candidates and success metrics
Phase 2 Results:
End-to-end process flows for automation
Phase 3 Results:
Automation SDLC process, and automation program management process
Phase 4 Results:
Automation roadmap
webinar status icon

Available Soon

Applications Priorities Report 2024

Check back soon to watch this webinar on demand.

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 4-phase advisory process. You'll receive 9 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Determine the value of cloud for your organization
  • Call 1: Introduce methodology.
  • Call 2: Review automation candidates.
  • Call 3: Review success metrics.

Guided Implementation 2: Determine cloud value and action plan for workloads
  • Call 1: Review process flows.
  • Call 2: Review end-to-end process flows.

Guided Implementation 3: Address risks and roadblocks
  • Call 1: Review testing considerations.
  • Call 2: Review automation SDLC.
  • Call 3: Review automation program metrics.

Guided Implementation 4: Clarify vision and roadmap initiatives
  • Call 1: Review automation roadmap.


Derek Shank


  • Steven Berkovitz, Chief Platform Officer, Tecsys Inc.
  • Deepak Giridharagopal, CTO, Puppet
  • Peter Madison, Founder, Xodiac Inc
  • Nabeel Yousif, Executive Consultant
  • Sergio Zanardo, VP Information Technology
Visit our Exponential IT Research Center
Over 100 analysts waiting to take your call right now: 1-519-432-3550 x2019