Automated services are used by a host of industries to eliminate repetitive tasks, increase efficiency and reduce operational costs. There are three categories of automated services: scheduled, user-initiated and time-initiated. The integration of computer systems into daily business operations has made the development and implementation of automated services possible on a broad scale.
The term "automated services" is used to describe any computer program that runs without human intervention. In a large organization, members of the technical services staff are responsible for managing automated services. The programs are written by the actual developers responsible for the system module and are designed to meet a specific requirement.
Scheduled automated services are designed to be run on a fixed schedule. The schedule could be based on specific business process requirements, such as the end of each month for a financial system or nightly for a cash deposit management system. In some situations, the service is scheduled based on other jobs or programs, because the results from those jobs are required for the automated services program to function.
Automated services that are user-initiated are growing in popularity. With this type of service, the user enters specific data or performs a series of tasks. Once these steps have been completed, the automatic process is triggered and runs in the background on a computer. A great example of this is a request for service entered via the Internet. The data is collected from the client, and once the submit button is pressed, a series of automated transactions occur. Notification is sent to the service technician, parts are ordered, a service schedule is modified, and an invoice is issued.
Time-initiated services are triggered at a specific time of day. This is a variation on the scheduled services but generally is utilized only for jobs or programs that are run on a daily basis. The development of automated services that can be initiated based on time removes the need for members of the technical service staff to work overnight. If there are any issues, the service can be programmed either to suspend and wait for instructions or to send a notification to a technician.
In order to support this type of environment, significant resources must be dedicated to the purchase and support of hardware, software and infrastructure. This is only cost-effective in large organizations that had full-time workers dedicated to running background jobs around the clock. Smaller organizations typically will not be able to realize a cost savings on these services.