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11 Ways Automation Helps Reduce Human Errors in IT Operations

Human error in IT can be costly - a simple mistake can have big consequences. At best, staff may have to redo a task, wasting valuable time. At worst, you can damage customer trust and be left paying for costly corrections. Unfortunately, though, human error is a natural part of IT that businesses must live with. Or is it?

In this article, we'll explore how automation can reduce human error, so instead of worrying about employee mistakes, you can focus on growth.

The cost of human error

man-on-coins 

IT-related human error is an issue for many businesses for lots of reasons. Firstly, costly mistakes can leave a mark. The average cost of a data breach, one of the most common byproducts of human error, is $9.48 billion. If left unchecked, error-related costs can quickly add up.

Of course, it's not all to do with monetary costs. There are lots of other, equally damaging issues related to mistakes. Some of the problems listed below help illustrate the scope of the problem.

  • Public image - IT errors don't instill much confidence in customers. Consumers will think twice before leaving their data with an error-prone company.
  • Time-consuming - Mistakes can take a long time to correct. This time could be spent on more valuable activities.
  • Morale - Employees who make mistakes will likely feel guilty. Their teammates are also frustrated due to any delays in progress.

Businesses are already seeing automation paying off in a variety of use cases. It could be ATS software being used to streamline the recruitment process and find top candidates. Or it could be automated marketing, enabling quicker delivery of campaigns. Whatever the case, automation can work wonders for businesses. Error reduction is yet another example of where it can be put to use.

11 Ways IT automation helps reduce human errors

The problem of human error isn't going to stop any time soon. The only way to lessen the risk is by implementing more automation. Need some convincing? Here are 11 ways that automation can help reduce human error.

1.    Cuts out manual tasks

Human error can occur for many reasons. Usually, the main culprit is repetitive tasks. These jobs take up a lot of time and can be very boring. Stuck with these tasks, employees feel uninspired in their roles. There's a risk they'll go into auto-pilot and stop concentrating. When this happens, errors start to occur.

One of the top benefits of automation technology is that it never gets bored with its tasks. Once programmed, it will carry out its task to the letter. It will only stop when you tell it to.

Luckily, you can automate many different manual tasks in IT. These include:

  • Sending bulk emails.
  • Backing up important files.
  • Approving tasks for teammates.
  • Managing assets. 

Freed from these dull tasks, employees can focus on something more interesting. They can work on high-level tasks that help to grow your business.

2.    Improves compliance

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IT operations often involve handling data. Unfortunately, this task is increasingly becoming a minefield. As consumers become more wary of their data and how it's being used, new legislation is cropping up. Laws such as GDPR and CCPA outline extremely tough measures for any violations. Aside from fines, you also have the added sting of lost customer trust. 

These laws are extremely detailed. What's more, if you deal with data from multiple markets, the risk becomes greater. Let's say you're hiring staff to join your IT team remotely. You're using an applicant tracking system UK and a separate tool to find recruits in Canada. Both countries have different laws that you'll need to consider when collecting applicant data.

Luckily, automated tools can help you stay on top of compliance issues. They help you spot issues early, by identifying potential compliance problems. You can then correct these issues before they become too damaging. Tools are also programmed to act in a compliant way. They can handle risky tasks such as data transfer and management for you.

3.    Removes bad data

Low data quality is as much a problem as having no data at all. Duplicated, poorly formatted, or simply inaccurate data can spell big problems for businesses. If your decision-making is based on bad data, your organization is likely headed in the wrong direction.

Sadly, when dealing with lots of data, issues can easily slip through the cracks. And the longer it takes you to spot a problem, the more damage is done. It'll also take more time to correct any wrong decision-making.   

Thanks to automation, tools can sift through large data sets and carry out evaluations. They can reduce human errors by flagging any issues within your data. This way, you can be more confident that your data-driven decision-making is headed in the right direction.

AI statistics further reveal that automated systems significantly reduce error rates in data management, ensuring more accurate and reliable processing compared to manual methods.

4.    Eliminates data entry errors

data-entry

It's easy to make mistakes when entering large volumes of information. These errors can be problematic and costly. A blatant example of this is invoice processing. If you are still relying on manual keying, it's easy to enter the wrong digit. Worse still, you might put a decimal point in the wrong place. Before you know it, you'll have over or underpayments, maybe even failed payments.

All of this prevents you from having a tight relationship with suppliers and could even impact your cash flow. Electronic invoice handling removes these problems, reduces the time spent keying, and delivers quick and accurate payments.

5.    Strenghtens consistency

Unlike a machine, employees can think for themselves. It's thanks to this that you can find new innovative approaches. Individuality brings new and unique perspectives to the workplace. Unfortunately, though, this strength can also mean a lack of consistency. 

Even when you outline clear guidelines, every employee will have a different approach. This means that results may not always line up with your expectations. The following inconsistencies are common in lots of businesses.

  • Inconsistent naming conventions for files.
  • Some staff take longer to complete certain tasks than others.
  • One employee may begin a task and another complete it, producing disjointed results.

Automation is the key to getting the consistency you need. An automated tool will always take the same approach, meaning that tasks are always completed in the same way.

6.    Boosts your security

padlock laptop

Cyber attacks are an ever-present danger for businesses. The problem is only getting worse - last year three in four companies in the United States were at risk of a material cyberattack. Many security issues can be attributed to human errors. An employee could open a spam-filled email or accidentally share details with a hacker.

Secure password management is a critical component of cybersecurity, and automation tools can generate, store, and apply strong passwords without human intervention, reducing the risk of security breaches.

That's why many organizations are now implementing the NIST CSF framework. By laying the groundwork, organizations can detect and recover from threats more quickly. 

Proper training is a useful start in this process, but security issues aren't always easy to spot. You're essentially relying on employee judgment in asking ‘Does this seem like a threat?' Automated technologies can help in several ways with threat detection. This includes:

  • Monitoring systems 24/7 to identify any potential risks.
  • URL filtering to prevent employees from accessing dangerous websites.
  • Creating protections once an attack has been detected on your systems.
  • Automating email defenses to spot and block malicious mail.
  • Applying automatic security updates, helping to keep your defenses secured.

7.    Hire the right people

Some errors are unavoidable. Others are down to carelessness or lack of expertise. If an employee isn't the right fit for the job, there's a higher chance of them making mistakes. Sometimes hiring managers make the wrong choices negatively impacting your IT operations.

The use of recruiting automation software can help increase the likelihood of smart hiring decisions.  The right tool will use data to find the most qualified candidates for a position. They help to enable constant communication so that recruiters get the best sense of candidates. 

8.    Reduces stress

reduce-stress

Employee stress levels are a serious problem for many organizations. ​​A report showed that 77% of workers reported experiencing work-related stress within a single month. Often feeling overburdened with tasks and deadlines, many employees struggle to cope. This damages productivity and increases the overall likelihood of errors occurring.

Automation helps to relieve some of the burden. With automated tools taking on certain tasks, staff feel less pressured. Deadlines become more manageable, helping to reduce human errors. 

9.    Safeguards project dependencies

Important dependencies can often be overlooked when managing IT projects. Let's say you are running a small project to deliver a new product. Your managers might be very experienced but even with a small project, there are many complexities. Task dependencies may be missed and what seemed like a minor problem suddenly becomes critical.

Automated tools will log dependencies and automatically track these for you. You'll get regular reports that flag up issues before they become a problem, keeping you in control.

10.    Offers real-time data

realtime-data-chart

Today data affects every part of the modern business. IT operations are no exception to this rule. Data can help you spot inefficiencies and potential errors, and improve key processes. That's why many IT departments collect as much data as possible. Of course, the more data that you have, the more difficult it can be to spot key insights.

Even the best managers can sometimes miss emerging problems or not spot them until it's too late. But if you automate your information suite, you can ensure that you get visualizations of all your key information.

All of your key information will be provided when you need it, giving you key management information that is easy to digest.

You will see trends that your co-workers may not have spotted. Your team can focus on interpreting and actioning the data making you more efficient and effective.

11.     Delivers operational alerts

Automating IT operations can give you greater control over day-to-day activities. You can, for example, set alerts to be issued if processes overrun. For example, if a certain task takes two hours and a process lasts for three, you could set an alert. This would enable you to investigate the problem and take any necessary action.

Similarly, you can schedule a process to begin as soon as an activity has been successfully completed. This removes potential delays if relying on a manual setup. Automation of incident management processes can ensure that the correct people are involved. It guarantees that action is taken when problems arise.

Key considerations for automation

Automation is one of the best examples of modernization, helping you to build a more efficient business and reduce human errors. That said, before getting too carried away with automating, there are several key considerations. Switching to an automated system takes commitment, and it will also change how your business operates.

Therefore, it's wise to bear some of the following factors in mind before automating:

  • Scope - You first must decide what should and shouldn't be automated. Automation takes time and can require you to overhaul your IT infrastructure. Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Which processes are most in need of a boost? Which systems are most at risk of human error?
  • Budget ​​- Automation can be expensive. You're not only paying for new systems, but for training and maintenance, too. It's important to run an overall assessment of your budget. Focus your funds on priority areas. You can always introduce more automation later.
  • Team - Not everyone on the team will embrace automation. They'll need reassurance that the new technology isn't going to replace them. Consider whether your current team is capable of adapting to an automated system.

Start automating

There's no denying that automation represents the future of IT operations. The cost of human error can be damaging, and unlike tools, employees can't be programmed to avoid mistakes. Without action, human error can be costly for your business.

Today, we've explored some of the ways that automation can reduce human error. It's a no-brainer - you can cut out admin, relieve stress, and spot errors before they become damaging. So, why not explore how automation can help you make human errors a thing of the past?

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Published Thursday, May 16, 2024 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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