Public sector IT leaders are developing what experts call an “automation-first mentality” and turning to automation to improve customer satisfaction and reduce the amount of time IT shops spend on repetitive manual tasks.

During MeriTalk’s “Shifting Left: How to Get More Out of Your IT Service Desk” webinar on Dec. 7, IT experts explained how there are many ways to get started with automation, but the best way is to start by identifying a pain point.

“I think the best organizations that we work with start, and they focus on finding something to automate that is painful for everyone involved. It’s painful for the customer they’re serving, it’s painful for the people fulfilling that service,” explained Andrew Graf, chief product officer at TeamDynamix.

For example, Graf explained that many of TeamDynamix’s customers are spending 35-plus hours on onboarding – something he said can be “dramatically reduced through automation.” With automation, onboarding tasks such as permission changes or name changes are no longer time-consuming.

“If we can start fixing some of those things – what I consider low-hanging fruit – what that tends to do is get people’s gears turning,” he said. “Once you fix something that everyone hates with automation, then people start thinking, ‘Wait a minute, there’s another thing that bothers me, not as much as what we just fixed, but there’s something there.’ So, what we see develop is what we call an automation-first mentality.”

That automation-first mentality, Graf explained, is prioritizing automation for a new or existing service that will “improve the results for the customer and their satisfaction, and reduce strain and burden on our team members.”

Jeff Scheetz, chief information officer for the City of Avondale, Ariz., said there’s “a big push for automation right now” in his area, and Avondale has utilized TeamDynamix to help launch its automation efforts.

The City of Avondale was able to launch automation around internal IT procurement processes, which Scheetz said “streamlined and reduced a ton of email for my staff.” Just by word of mouth, he said other city departments have taken notice and asked the IT shop, “Hey, we want that. Show us what this is.”

“We’re a very rapidly growing city here… so I think anything we can do to provide those services to get more done faster, I think it’s been a good thing,” Scheetz said. “Our staff is really looking at it from an innovative standpoint… automation, it’s not really to take jobs. That’s not the goal of it, I don’t think in any organization, but it’s better quality, right?”

“Yeah, it saves us time, but it’s not going to eliminate somebody’s job. We can just get more done,” he added. “I think every department – even outside of IT – has a backlog that we’re not getting done.”

Ultimately, Scheetz said automation is now a citywide effort and helps Avondale to seamlessly meet its motto, which is “to make lives better.”

To learn more about how public sector IT leaders are delivering more efficient services to employees and constituents, watch the entire conversation here.

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