Sunday, July 13, 2014

The compounding power of automation

I was recently reviewing some of my past automation and development projects. I took the time to calculate the man hours my projects saved the organization. Over the last 9 years it has added up to some substantial savings. I have directly saved 44,000+ man hours. Because those tasks were automated, the frequency of that work was increased. I estimate that over a 5 year window, my projects are doing the work of 215,000+ man hours.

I want to take a moment to point out this image below. I used the 5 year metric because of this chart.

I think every system administrator automates things all the time without thinking about it. I included several of those in my calculation.

Every week, we would make a copy of the production data onto a second server for reports. It would take me about an hour to create a one off backup, restore it to a second server, and run some post processing scripts. If I spent an hour each week over the last 9 years, it would have taken 468 hours of my time. No admin in their right mind is doing something like this by hand. I automated it and did something else more productive with those 468 hours.

The advantage of automating it was running it more often to give the business better access to the data. I made it a daily process and automated what would have been 2,340 man hours of time to do the same thing.

I have one project where I saved 4 seconds (80% improvement) off of 1.1 million actions. One automation script took my department out of the account provisioning process saving 270 hours over 3 years. I have another one that took someone 1 week to generate a set of report 4 times a year and I made the whole set process daily. There are 20+ projects where I saved the company time and made it more productive.

These savings are not imaginary. There are a few cases where staff resources were reassigned to other areas because of this automation. Part of the reason I got involved in many of these projects is because they took too much time and there had to be a better way. I am good at finding that better way.

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