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ITSM for Manufacturing: Automation, Digital Transformation Key to Success

As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve to meet the accelerating needs of consumers and businesses many manufacturing IT leaders say they are focusing on building more resilient supply chains, digital transformation and IT modernization heading into the next twelve months. As part of that focus, many leaders are looking to update their IT Service Management tools so they can meet high service levels and support their ever-growing bench of mission-critical IT systems and users.

Data from InformationWeek’s State of ITSM in Manufacturing Report shows that while manufacturers are making great progress on maturing their ITSM systems and processes, they’ll soon face headwinds if they don’t digitally transform ITSM the way they are transforming their factory floors.

The survey shows that manufacturers run lean ITSM teams, and handle increasing numbers of IT tickets by the day, but still process much of their work manually.

Coming in as the top challenge, more than 44 percent of those surveyed cite excessive manual processing and insufficient automation as their top IT challenge along with the same percentage naming a lack of IT resources and high ticket volumes as a top challenge.

Why Automation Matters in Manufacturing

According to the InformationWeek survey, a third of organizations contend with over 1,000 tickets per month, while more than half handle up to 1,000. A large number of those tickets are wrapped up in extremely repetitive tasks.

In fact, 32 percent of survey respondents say they and their teammates spend between 5 to 10 hours of their week on repetitive tasks or requests. What’s worse is many of them are completed manually. Forty-four percent of organizations say they do tasks like user management, onboarding/offboarding, name change updates, and more without the use of automation.

Did you know the tasks that create the most IT job dissatisfaction within manufacturing IT teams and wreak havoc on their service levels are manual password resets, credential management and onboarding/offboarding?

ITSM has come a long way since its inception. From manual processes to automation and everything in between, ITSM is continuing to evolve. Automation has made IT Service Management more efficient, cost-effective and reliable. It's also enabled organizations to focus on strategic tasks rather than mundane ones like maintaining systems or dealing with tedious tickets.

While ITSM tools help organizations improve service delivery, enhance customer experience and reduce operational costs, automation has allowed ITSM to move beyond manual processes for tasks like incident response, problem management and change management. And when survey results show that 44 percent of manufacturing IT teams are still doing many of the most common ITSM tasks manually, it’s easy to see how much of an impact implementing an ITSM tool with automation and integration can have.

ITSM automation helps streamline operations and enables teams to focus on delivering value to customers rather than tedious activities.

The benefits of automation and ITSM are numerous. Here are just a few:

  1. Automation allows you to streamline and improve your IT service management process. This can save your organization time and money while also improving the quality of your services.
  2. Automation helps you to optimize your resources and reduce waste. This can improve your efficiency and bottom line.
  3. Automation makes it easier to manage change and compliance, reducing the risk of disruption to your services.
  4. Automation can improve customer satisfaction by ensuring that services are delivered faster and more reliably.
  5. Automation enables you to focus on strategic tasks rather than mundane activities, improving your overall productivity.

So what’s the hold up in getting more ITSM automation in manufacturing?

According to the InformationWeek survey, ITSM teams at manufacturing firms run relatively lean. More than half of manufacturers have fewer than 10 systems admins to support all of their IT systems/applications.

Given the team sizes, the movement toward Industry 4.0 through digital expansion and growing IT/OT convergence is naturally increasing the workload on this limited pool of ITSM staffers. It’s also raising operational and cybersecurity risks across the board for manufacturers. These pressures are reflected in the top IT issues named by survey respondents.

In the face of growing ransomware attacks against manufacturers and risks to operational equipment through IT breaches, it’s no surprise that security and compliance are the top concerns keeping manufacturing IT leaders up at night. However, these pressures are also mounting in tandem with logistical issues that include budget pressures, resource constraints and project backlog.

When you combine those with other concerns like the need to have data integrity, modernization and digital transformation, a lot of those issues can be tied to inefficiencies in the ITSM function.

These inefficiencies are caused by some of the biggest ITSM challenges faced by survey respondents today. Their response to the No. 1 challenge in ITSM came up as a tie. “Lack of resources/high ticket volumes” was in a dead heat with “excessive manual processing/insufficient automation.” In both instances, 44% of respondents said this was one of their top challenges.

Investing in ITSM Tools with Automation, Integration and AI

Seeing the numbers, it’s no surprise that ITSM systems that offer integration and automation, along with project management, the ability for Enterprise Service Management (ESM) and conversational AI chat are growing in popularity within the manufacturing industry.

In fact, IT leaders in manufacturing say digital transformation, leveraging AI for proactive resolution and expanding ITSM to other departments through ESM are top priorities heading into the next few years.

With the right ITSM tool, you can achieve all three of these initiatives. How?

Start by finding a platform that offers ITSM, Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and automation and integration (iPaaS) on one platform.

With this approach, you get the following benefits:

  1. Improved collaboration and communication - When ITSM, PPM and iPaaS are all on a single platform, it's easier for teams to collaborate and communicate effectively. With all the tools in one place, everyone can access the same information and work together more efficiently. This can lead to faster decision-making and more effective problem-solving.
  2. Streamlined processes - Having ITSM, PPM and iPaaS on a single platform can also help streamline processes. IT teams can create workflows that automatically trigger tasks for project-based events, for example. Departments outside of IT (if employing an Enterprise Service Management approach to service delivery) can utilize integration and automation for processes like onboarding employees and more. This reduces the amount of manual work that needs to be done and helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks both in IT and other departments – all utilizing the same codeless platform.
  3. Better visibility and control - When all IT functions are consolidated on one platform, it's easier to get a comprehensive view of the organization's technology landscape. IT leaders can see all of the projects, tasks, tickets and resources in use at any given time and can adjust as needed to improve performance. This increased visibility and control can also help teams identify areas for improvement and optimize their workflows.
  4. Reduced costs and complexity - Using a single platform for ITSM, PPM and iPaaS can also help reduce costs and complexity. Rather than purchasing and maintaining separate tools, and building homegrown automations between everything, IT teams can use one platform that covers all of their needs. This can reduce the time and resources required to manage multiple tools, as well as the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining them. With everyone on one platform, you have a lower total cost of ownership.
  5. Enhanced security and compliance - Finally, having ITSM, PPM and iPaaS on a single platform can help enhance security and compliance. IT teams can create policies and procedures that apply to all IT functions, ensuring that data is protected and regulatory requirements are met. This can be especially important for businesses in regulated industries, where compliance is critical.

At Nutrabolt, a rapid-growth active health and wellness company based in Austin, Texas, they are using TeamDynamix to automate ticket assignments, create accounts and more. “We had a help desk tool in place, but it was not purposefully built. It was very generic, and there was no discipline in the use of it,” Mark Dittenber, Director of IT, said.

Dittenber and his staff needed a highly flexible and customizable platform that could support new IT processes with automated workflows now, and into the future, as the company’s IT operations continue to mature.

“I liked the lightweight nature of TeamDynamix, as well as its ability to scale with our needs,” he said.

Dittenber and his team were able to implement TeamDynamix in a matter of weeks. They began with IT Service Management and have now expanded to include project management. All the configurations and automation are created without any technical resources on TeamDynamix’s no-code platform.

Within the tool, Mark and his team established customized forms and automated workflows to create network accounts, assign rights and privileges to new teammates, submit and track service requests, request and approve IT changes, provision new devices and more.

As they create new IT processes from the ground up, they’re also building out a knowledge base and a self-service portal. Having thoughtfully crafted processes in place — and the right enterprise service platform to support them — has already made a big impact in just a few months.

“We really notice this when we onboard new teammates, they are ramping much faster,” Dittenber said.

Do you want to learn more about the state of ITSM in manufacturing? Check out the full report here.