It’s Time For CIOs And IT Directors To Wake Up To Scripting

A recent research report by independent analysts Quocirca, points out that “30% of an IT teams’ time is spent on low-level tasks such as responding to minor user incidents, carrying out routine procedures or checking for errors.” The report concludes that “One way to reduce the cost of performing such tasks is more automation.”

This is not news. I recall writing articles on this wastage of time, resources, skills and money back in 2009. Yet here we are in 2013 and the wastage continues despite an environment of ongoing budget cuts, lay-offs and the need to do more with less.

Amazingly CIOs and IT directors continue to overlook one of the most obvious ways to increase accuracy and efficiency while freeing up IT time to focus on more important tasks. The answer is staring us in the face: Automate those tasks that can be automated. And how? – By using one of the most fundamental tools available to the IT professional, and that is scripting.

What Is Scripting?

Essentially scripting enables the automation of routine tasks through short programs, written in a scripting language. Write it once and it will do the same job again and again, freeing up staff for more important tasks.

Many IT managers and directors have a blind spot when it comes to scripting – it is seen as a bit of black art. A lot of staff don’t know how to script and as it isn’t a hot topic on university courses they’ll have to learn it from scratch.

But the benefits are enormous. Using the latest generation of scripting software within a couple of days (or less) companies can automate a significant percentage of their internal network management processes – with just a few script lines. The latest scripting software takes care of deployments, updates, logons, backups, .msi-repackaging, .exe-creation, inventory… all in one package.

So Why Isn’t It Used?

There’s two main reasons that scripting doesn’t get adopted. Firstly, the blunt truth is that some IT staff, although they say they want more challenges or want to make better use of their skills, they are very risk averse. I’m sure many IT managers look around their team and recognise this type of person. They’ve been focused on responding to mundane requirements for so long that they worry that they don’t have what it takes to succeed at more challenging tasks. In their mind scripting would essentially put them out of a job.

Secondly, company IT efforts (and budget) are focused elsewhere. We’ve talked to some organisations and while they agree in principle with the benefits of adopting a scripting tool they won’t even test it. Why? They claim they can’t afford the luxury of looking at something that doesn’t solve an immediate, mission-critical need.

The focus is so much on bigger projects that the (minimal) effort of introducing scripting doesn’t make it onto their ‘to do’ list. So they will continue to spend thousands of pounds of IT time to continue doing things inefficiently, rather than investing a few hours in testing the appropriateness of this technology.

This is why it is time for CIOs and IT directors to wake up to scripting. Under pressure to deliver more with less, they need to look again at how they handle the basics of running their IT. Not only will scripting enable them to save time and money, but will free up staff and resources to focus on the other projects (like the Cloud and BYOD) that the business is crying out for. And if you are still not convinced, take a look at Quocirca’s report: The-wastage-of-human-capital-in-IT-operations – then decide if you can afford not to automate.

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Annette Dow is director of Binary Resource (UK), the exclusive distributor for FastTrack Scripting Host. Binary originates from the company that first developed the Ghost software (now Symantec Ghost). It has evolved into a worldwide distributor of niche software products targeted at the making IT management simpler.