Guidelines to Follow while Selecting IT Automation Tools

By CIOReview | Monday, August 8, 2016
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The definition of automation has not yet been entrenched as its meaning varies in contexts and situations. The term is almost synonymous to the vast enterprise world, where the need for automation is exhaustive as its functionality—operations automation, business process automation, tool automation, monitoring automation, service provider automation, etc. In the current scenario, the need for IT automation is increasing with the wide spread adoption of cloud computing.

The overall process automating an enterprise’s IT assets involves utilization of programs, scripts, jobs, and other practices. Once achieved, automated IT would serve as an ideal link between software and disparate systems so that the systems becomes self-regulating and self-acting. The motive behind automation is simply to automate day-to-day, menial tasks, provide faster, and more reliable results, as well as enable visibility, auditability alongside demonstrating a higher return on investment (ROI).

To proceed with the decision of shedding conventional practices that involve human intervention, enterprises looking to automate IT systems must first engage in detailed analysis of different tools. Upon identifying the right automation tool, it can serve as one of the biggest and most crucial assets to enhance quality and analysis initiative of companies through the process of Software Development and Delivery Lifecycle. However in the recent times, the rise of DevOps culture and the fast paced adoption of methodologies by companies along with the help of release and delivery management system make the job of tool selection more complicated. The perfect IT automation tool will not only automate IT systems but also offers an opportunity to build a repeatable cloud environment while also taking advantage of the scalability and elasticity of the cloud.

Most businesses relying on IT assets believe in the philosophy of “less is more”. This idea further emphasizes on the organizations’ needs for efficient utilization of their current resources to fulfill the increasing demand of the computational resources.  Automation is the most certain way of fulfilling the goal by streamlining the processes by implementation of batch and scripting jobs. These methods are effective and limited to a single task or system as a result of which their scope is limited. So to kick start the automation initiatives, companies begin their journey with a single task where multiple systems are combined to interact seamlessly and pace up the organizational workings.

Based on the insights by the industry experts, below are the four major criteria that outline relevant factors impacting the selection of IT automation tools:

Understanding Company Requirements

IT automation tools save time, and make the automation practice easier. Every company needs an automation tool for its own specific reason. So, admins and stakeholders must conduct a thorough check to assess if the tool functionalities are in line with the company requirements and test its infrastructure to measure compatibility. If system administrator is able to understand company requirements, there are chances of wrong tool selection. Therefore, the clear understanding of company requirements simplifies the clutter involved in the selection of automation tools.

Proper Estimation of Budget

Proper budget estimation is compulsory before starting with the tool selection process because it helps administrator in filtering of tools. Sometimes a tool vendor would include additional prices along with the license pricing. Therefore a company needs to confirm all additional expenses and prices before buying the tool. Generally, the prices would include add-on fee, upgrade fee, support fee, and training fee.

The automation tool vendor provides various choices of user licenses, like Node-Locked that supports automation tool on only one computer in the company network. Concurrent Floating License that can be shared between different machines, but can only be used on one system at a time. Run Time License allows a script to execute and run on multiple systems. An organization can select any of the above licenses according to their needs.

Ability to Support Company’s Operating System, Browser or Device

The selection of tool depends on the type of application or operating system a company is using. If a firm works on a desktop application then the number of operating systems should be outlined to verify with the tools functionalities. Before making a final decision, customers need to ensure that tool supports both old and new versions of the browsers. In case of mobile application, it is compulsory to understand the mobile operating systems on which test cases are going to be run.

Tool Compatibility with Company’s Existing Technology

A clear understanding of technologies is essential before onboarding an automation tool. System administrator can consult the developers about the technologies used in applications like SilverLight or HTML 5. After that it would be easy to identify the tool that is relevant to the company applications.

Ability to Support Different Data Sources

If company’s test automation framework is data driven or keyword driven, the tool facilitating it should have the ability to connect with any data source like Excel, XML, CSV and Database.

Reporting Mechanism of Tool

During the execution of a script there is a possibility of only two results i.e. fail or pass. If script is successfully executed, then admin will only have to note execution time and result. In the case of failure, a comprehensive report of causes of failure is required. The automation tools must be equipped with the ability to share reports to stakeholders in different formats. Further the tool should be able to provide comprehensive reports of failures.

Conclusion

The preference and relevance a potential solution for automation of work processes and operations entirely depends on the company requirements and the nature of the product. The company needs a clear understanding of their working mechanism before searching a relevant tool for it. Selection of correct automation tool plays a crucial role in successful automation.