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Why working smarter not harder is the key to automation success

Why working smarter not harder is the key to automation success
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Why working smarter not harder is the key to automation success

Q&A with Raju Kadam, DevOps Engineer, Tesla and speaker at Atlassian’s upcoming European Summit.


Altassian’s European Summit 2018 is just around the corner, so we decided to go behind the scenes to catch up with one of this year's guest speakers, automation guru at TeslaRaju Kadam. We got the inside track on what Raju will share at Summit and what he is looking forward to most from this year’s event.

1. What was the highlight of last year’s Summit for you, and what are you looking forward to most at this year’s event?

I enjoy attending Atlassian’s Summit because it helps me get up-to-speed quickly with what’s going on and how things are moving in the world of Atlassian. Every year, it gives you the chance to see how much progress is being made, find out what the different vendors are talking about and discover what Atlassian innovations are on the cards.

This year, apart from giving my own presentation, I am looking forward to attending the Atlassian Atlas Camp. This is where you get intimate knowledge from across all the different specialists in the Atlassian ecosystem. I have great memories of attending the Atlassian Developer Camp, and I am hoping this year will be just as much fun.

2. What are the most critical steps a team can take to kick off their automation journey?

When it comes to automation, it’s essential to know what you want to achieve with it from the start.  So many times, in my experience, you learn how to automate because you are running out of resources or a process is too complicated to follow manually.

Before diving straight into automate, I would recommend critical steps:

  1. Identify your need – the problem you are tackling should always be with you, harassing you, so that you’re looking for every possible way to resolve it.
  2. Validate end-to-end – take the time to look at your task or process in detail, end-to-end and evaluate if it is adaptable enough to be automated. Do you know the whole picture? Do you know how you could replicate the process in an automated way?
  3. Map your process to the world of softwareonce you understand each step involved, you should map it with the tools, programming language or framework you have available to automate.
  4. Get the right skills for the job – do you have the programming skills required? Experimenting with the best automation tools and programming languages will help build your confidence and knowledge and give you a head start on your automation journey.

3. What are the most common hurdles enterprises face when introducing automation?

In my opinion, the biggest challenge is being able to access and leverage the ‘know-how’ of others in the industry who have embarked on similar automation projects. Once you identify the need to automate, it would be great to be able to ask the community “Hey, how could I go about this particular automation? And be able to benefit from someone else’s experience, rather than start from scratch.

For me, successful automation is about sharing your experience and learning from others. A few years back, a colleague showed me how to use Ruby and Selenium to automate the browser. It was a eureka moment for me. I was struggling for a solution, and this insight opened a new window of opportunity for me.  

In my opinion, the sky is the limit with Atlassian automation, and I’m hoping that by sharing my insights at Summit so that I can kick-off a conversation on how as an industry we could share best practices, tools, and techniques to drive automation forward.

4. What is the best productivity hack you have created to date?

My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when I learned about browser automation.  This one automation trick changed everything for me and continues to solve so many challenges.

I don’t want to steal the thunder from my Summit presentation, but I plan to share my first-hand experience of implementing a company-wide HR system using the U plugin for Confluence<and browser automation, in under two weeks, saving over 100k in the process. This was a proud moment for me and made me realise what you could achieve with automation.

ScriptRunner is another excellent automation tool that has opened many doors for me.  I am a huge fan of Jamie Echlin who created the ScriptRunner plugin; he is one of the smartest guys in the Atlassian community. ScriptRunner has helped me do a lot of Jira customisation, and I can now even add a custom API to it.

It’s such a fantastic tool, I have dedicated one slide in my presentation to share my enthusiasm and gratitude for ScriptRunner. In my opinion, Adaptavist has taken ScriptRunner to the next level. I have seen a glimpse of what’s coming down the line with the product, it’s definitely in great hands and is only getting better.  

5. With growing media coverage on the dangers of over-automation, do you believe there will always be a place for human creativity?

In my opinion, when we don’t have much time or resources, that’s where automation kicks in. Humans can’t scale their capabilities when there is no headcount available.  That’s when we have to leverage some automation help.

However, there are many processes that are so complex and ever-changing which don’t lend themselves towards automation.  It’s sometimes not worth the time and energy that you would need to spend to automate effectively. In these cases, I think humans are critical.

Ultimately, humans are the central figure in everything that we do. Automation is there because humans want to use their time on something else.  As I will share in my presentation the key to automation is not about getting rid of the need for humans, it’s about working smarter so you can utilise your time on something more interesting.

About the speaker:

Raju Kadam has automated the Atlassian stack for Tesla, Pandora, Cisco and others for over 13 years. Join Raju at #AtlassianSummit where he will share his journey, through real-life examples of how working smarter not harder is the key to automation success.

Raju's presentation 'Atlassian Automation - A Guide to Being Lazy' takes place on Tuesday, 4th September, 20018, Day 2 [14:00 - 14:40 p.m.] of #AtlassianSummit 2018. Check the event website for the full agenda and registration details.

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