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May 29, 2014

Incentivizing Your Team to Innovate and Automate

CJ Wright
Product Manager, Mid-Market
ConnectWise, Inc.
How to Incentivize Automation

For most companies, in particular companies in industries like ours where technology is constantly changing, there are six letters that should be the focus of everything you do: NIHITO. Also known as Nothing Important Happens In The Office, it’s the concept that ideas, solutions, and most importantly, market problems, need to be fully vetted in the real world by getting out of the office and speaking with the people who allow your company to exist—your customers.

Here at LabTech Software, we’ve fully embraced this idea with our “Follow Me Home” program, where we travel down the road, or even across the country, and meet with our partners to learn more about their business and the pain points they experience.

Meet Increasing Demand without Increasing Resources

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with a LabTech partner in Washington, DC that recently became HUBZone Certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration. With this certification comes the potential for a large increase in new contracts. And with that potential comes a fear that their existing workforce won’t be able to keep up with the increase in demand for their services.

Even now, this partner has technicians who complain about the types of work requests they get, such as cleaning up the wiring at a client site. And who can blame them? If you’ve spent your life working towards a career in IT, getting certification after certification, only to find out that clients just want you to organize some wires behind a desk, you might feel a bit frustrated as well.

Which brings us to this partners’ #1 pain point.

The Power of Automation to Drive Business Growth

Right now, this partner is handling roughly 225 workstations and 25 servers per tech. A pretty impressive number considering the types of clients they serve: real estate offices, non-profits, small law firms, etc. (They serve some large law firms too, which I hear are extremely pleasant to work with.)

That said, there’s a feeling that some techs may not be pulling their weight as much as others, which is potentially holding them all back from being able to do more. So we discussed the idea of incentivizing automation.

LabTech scripting and automation may seem daunting at first, but the power they deliver is beyond compare. Drag and drop scripts can be nice for quick, simple tasks, but what about a script that automatically configures your clients’ Outlook to Office 365?

How much do you pay for your remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool? How much do you pay your engineers? Consider this: How often are they using your RMM solution as a fancy remote control client to perform a 30-45 minute task on each endpoint at a client site that is converting from on-prem to Office 365? If they’re managing 225 workstations, that’s 112-168 hours of work!

Rewarding Innovation and Automation

Your techs and engineers know the steps. They know what can go wrong. They know how to work around those “gotchas” that don’t always show up in the standard online documentation. So get started today by writing the steps down with command paths and switches (save the gotchas for later). If you can get 80% of the process documented, you have something to begin scripting. Plus, if you’re managing 225 workstations per engineer, you can potentially save 90-134 hours per tech. That’s huge!

If a tech helps make this possible, or even better, if they step up and create the script themselves, why not reward that? Or make Activity Automation part of your annual review process. You know, the carrot and stick approach.

Finding qualified people will always be a struggle. By adopting a culture of automation and rewarding innovation, you’ll quickly find that some people are eager to step up to the plate and others will consistently be “too busy” to think outside the box.

There’s a need for people who just get the job done, but IT service providers also need to breed new innovators who can help the business scale and inspire others to join.

Automation Basics to Get Started

Download your free Automation 101 eBook for some automation basics and tips to build automation in your IT business.

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CJ Wright Product Manager, Mid-Market
ConnectWise, Inc.

CJ’s thirst for knowledge spans into every facet of his life. He’s always on the lookout for ideas and solutions that will eliminate the pain points that LabTech partners experience in their day-to-day operations.

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2 thoughts on “Incentivizing Your Team to Innovate and Automate

  1. Nice one CJ. Yes, the potential in automation is huge. We are only just scratching the surface yet, as our experience builds we will do more. It’s a challenging and rewarding experience.

  2. CJ Wright says:

    Hey Peter!

    Glad to hear you’re building out plans for future automation. At Automation Nation this year, our CEO (Matt Nachtrab) talked about “Operation Automation” which is essentially just what you’re talking about. He challenged all partners to find a process and automate it down to the fewest steps possible.

    An example he used was from EDTS, who saved well over 100+ hours with a single script. They’ve even gone so far as to create an Automation Team in their company to continually identify and remove repetitive, scriptable tasks.

    What kinds of items are you looking to automate next?

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