What these people mean when they say they don't have time - especially when they say they don't have time to automate, is that they genuinely don't want to. Perhaps people don't believe they have the chance to automate. Whatever the case may be - automation takes time to see any benefits. However, the current mindset is focused on immediacy rather than into the future; particularly in management.
Perhaps you feel there are too many tickets to close. Or too many fires to quench. Understandably there are tickets to close, and there are always going to be fires to put out. There's always going to be something that takes time away from a big automation project. What's important is to be proactive about the situation. Automation is a big proactive step. This isn't particularly favored by management - because they aren't able to track as closely what's going on.
Tracking Proactive Work is Hard
There's no way to track adding something to an Excel spreadsheet by a user. If the user goes can't access their spreadsheet they're going to open a ticket, somebody's going to fix it - problem solved. One resolution. Granted, you may be one step closer to achieving your ticket close goal, but if somebody is proactive about this and has made sure that the Excel spreadsheet is always there, they are just going to open it up and go about their day. They're not going to open a ticket to say, "Hey, thanks for having my Excel spreadsheet available to me today, I appreciate that." That's why they're called 'Trouble Tickets' and not called 'Positivity Tickets'!
Automation isn't an Overnight Sensation
Automation is the same thing. Here's an example of a big automation project: deploying a server. Whenever you deploy a server; to automate this process takes a long time. Good automation projects take time to discover, to iron out all the rules, check all the dependencies and conditional logic. Then you have to build the scripts for whatever project you're going to be doing, which takes a considerable amount of time.
Before that project can get any traction at all, it may take many months before you even get any benefit from automation whatsoever. This is the hard selling point for management that don't understand; they only see the immediate all the time. They don't have the vision. They don't take the time to see the forest for the trees and realize if this process that gets done every day is automated if we take six months to do this but we do it every single day, and it takes an hour to do every day - what's the ROI?
This is a really good way to sell automation to your management. Sell it to them with hard facts. You need to know two different criteria. How much time does a task take? How often does the job happen? Once you understand the frequency, you can estimate how long the automation is going to take and quickly calculate what the ROI is on that. How long is it going to take for this automated task to take hold and start paying off?
How to get Started Automating
The easy automation projects are the low hanging fruit; start off with a task that takes the most time, and you do the most often. Those are the tasks that are going to benefit the most from automation. Once this is completed, you can move on to smaller jobs. At which point, you could get it in throughout your day without bypassing management approval - 'Ask for forgiveness - don't ask for permission.' Start out small and feel out the waters a little bit to gauge how management is taking that. How do they feel about you taking some time away from firefighting and see that you're taking some initiative? You want to fix it once and for all instead of always having to repeat yourself over and over; maybe even to some of your team. This is the thing about making the excuse that there is "No time to do it."
It seems as though the resistance to automation is mostly due to management; adopting an old-school mentality; the kind of person that just doesn't mind coming in and doing the nine to five repetition; coming to work and doing what they've always done for the last twenty years. The point here is to be patient with automation. Start small. Get more experience with building powerful scripts. Build whatever you can with the tools you have. Do that under the radar for a while. Get some experience so you can see the benefits yourself and realize 'Wow, this is a thing here: we could get our company and our team, and maybe eventually our whole department in on this thing!'
Once you do that, you begin to gather up ammo - your arguing points behind your project. Eventually, when it comes to the point to where you can't sustain these little scripts in addition to your firefighting role, that's when you approach management and say "I've been taking some initiative with my time and I've seen that I've been doing these tasks X number of times and it's taken me Y number of hours. I've seen that if I write this script, I can save 'x' amount of money. Since I've been building this script I've saved the company x amount of dollars". Dollars is a valuable thing for the company; apparently, which is another big part of automation. You need to plant the seed for management to experience the moment where they realize; maybe it is worth taking a step back sometimes and starting on this.
Win Them Over!
Then the possibilities open up - maybe you can automate more stuff. Perhaps you can write some Powershell scripts to do everything else and eventually, get people excited about Powershell, scripting, and automation in general. Finally, they will realize: 'I'm doing a lot less work. I'm not doing the boring work that I used to do every day. This job is fun again.' This is what automation can provide to you and your team. So, the next time somebody tells you, "Well, I don't have time to automate," point them to this article and maybe they will gain some insight on how automation can transform their work and life.
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