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Creating Time: Rundeck and Self-Service Operations

Every Operations team has a long list of things they would accomplish if they only had the time.

From paying down technical debt, to improving infrastructure, to help the business — there is no end in sight to what you could be doing.

What stops you? A lack of time. You have to prioritize the limited amount you have.

Self-Service Operations should be a top priority because it turns a small upfront investment into a self-propelling, time-recovery machine.

Self-Service Operations will help you free up more of your time by:
1. Reducing interruptions and waiting
2. Automating away repetitive tasks that get in your way

Every bit of effort spent on Self-Service Operations results in even more time saved. That extra time means more capacity. You can use that capacity to improve the business and create more self-service (which perpetuates the time-saving cycle!) 

Reducing interruptions and waiting

Excessive interruptions and waiting have long plagued Operations organizations. If we can minimize interruptions and waiting, we can recover a tremendous amount of time that can be applied elsewhere.

Operations spends a lot of time waiting

Many interruptions can be traced back to the fact that Operations is one of the few disciplines where planned and unplanned work co-exist by design. So while some interruptions are inevitable, we have to control the "blast radius" of the disruptions by cutting down on escalations.

Because of the specialized nature of operations work, the industry has traditionally designed functionally-aligned organizations (e.g., Linux admin teams, Windows admin teams, firewall teams, storage teams, network teams, DBA teams, platform engineering teams, and more).

Since very little work takes place in isolation, requests (planned or unplanned) frequently cross team boundaries. For the people making the requests, this means a lot of waiting. For those fielding the requests, this means a lot of interruptions.

Take Action

1. Identify Sources of Interruptions and Waiting

Analyze the most frequent and the most impactful interruptions and waiting. Your ticket system is a great place to start. In the early stages, an informal survey of your colleagues is often helpful. 

2. Start small to prove the benefits

Look for a handful of use cases to get some quick wins. It helps to pick some interruptions or waiting that are well-known in your organization. You'll likely find in the early stages that the 80/20 rule applies (probably more like 90/10). You'll probably quickly discover some low hanging fruit that will serve as excellent proof of concept.

Self-Service Opertions Quick Wins

3. Use a self-service model to roll out self-service

The key to a self-propelling improvement program is to get teams enthusiastic about furthering the improvement. On each side of a request queue, there is a party that is either waiting or being interrupted. If you make it easy enough for them to do it, you can leverage both of their interest in replacing that queue with self-service. Of course, this means you need a Self-Service Operations platform that makes it as easy as possible to set up.

Working Together for Self-Service Operations

This is where Rundeck's ease-of-use shines. Rundeck allows you to quickly drop in any existing scripts or tools to create standard operating procedures. All of the features that would be difficult to build on your own are a simple configuration in Rundeck — workflow control, access control, notifications, error-handling, data passing, secrets management, user input management, logging, and interfaces (GUI, API, CLI).