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Automated Patch Management: A Simple and Low-Cost Means to Happier IT Employees

Here are five ways automated patch management benefits IT employees.

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Let's be blunt: Installing software patches is no one's idea of a good time. When performed manually, patching is a tedious, time-consuming process. It's also one that never ends because for many teams, new patches appear every single day.

Now, this might be fine if you don't care about the experience and job satisfaction of your IT team, which typically bears responsibility for managing patches. But any employer who wants to keep IT engineers happy, engaged, and on staff should care deeply about the IT employee experience — which means, by extension, that finding ways to reduce the burden of patch management should be a key priority.

To that end, let's walk through all of the ways in which an automated, proactive approach to patch management enhances the job experience of IT engineers, and in turn benefits businesses by helping them to hire and retain talented IT staff.

What Is Patch Management?

Patch management is the deployment of software patches to systems in need of updates. Updates can fix bugs, provide new features, or mitigate security vulnerabilities, which makes it important to install patches as soon as possible after their release.

However, patch deployment can be quite challenging. Part of the issue is the sheer number of patches that IT teams have to manage. A typical PC or server can host hundreds of applications, software libraries, and other assets that could potentially require patching on any given day.

To make matters worse, each software vendor usually has its own approach to publishing patches. As a result, there is no centralized place where IT teams can go to view and download all available patches for the systems they support.

Hybrid and remote work, which has become prevalent in recent years, adds another layer of complication to patch management. Because it's not always possible to predict when or from where remote devices will connect to a business's network, patch installation for remote systems can't be scheduled as easily as it can be for devices that are located in the office.

In short, patch management is a critical responsibility for any IT team that supports PCs or servers. But it can also be a tedious and draining activity, especially in today's era of distributed workforces.

How Proactive Patch Management Makes IT Employees Happier

The good news is that organizations can conquer this challenge by adopting a proactive, automated approach to patch management. Instead of manually scouring each software vendor's package repositories for updates, then installing each one by hand, IT employees can leverage tools that automatically identify patches as soon as they are published, then deploy them to all systems in need of them.

When you take this approach to patch management, you get IT employees that are happier in several key respects.

Less toil

Most obviously, IT employees who benefit from automated patch management are able to spend much less time toiling to find and install software updates.

As a result, they can focus their efforts on more productive and rewarding work — like deploying brand-new software that gives the business capabilities it did not previously have, or rearchitecting systems to make them more efficient.

Fewer support requests

Software that is unpatched may be buggy, causing users to file tickets with the help desk. Thus, by installing patches automatically as soon as they become available, IT teams minimize the number of tickets they have to respond to. This also reduces the tedium and repetitiveness of their jobs.

More consistent tooling

If your IT engineers manage patches manually, they have to learn how to navigate multiple software release channels and multiple patch installation tools — one for each of the software vendors that your company works with. Having to learn and juggle disparate tools adds to the cognitive load of IT teams. It also makes it harder to onboard new engineers.

With automated patch management, this problem disappears because a single tool can find and deploy patches from all relevant vendors. As a result, IT engineers have to learn and manage just one patching solution.

Better pay and job stability

Automated patch management may not directly increase IT engineer pay and reduce the frequency of layoffs. But indirectly, it does contribute because it helps IT teams maximize their productivity. As a result, businesses can afford to invest more in IT staff, and they are less likely to see the IT department as a major cost center in need of trimming during tough economic times.

In other words, by helping IT engineers work more efficiently, automated and proactive patch management also makes their jobs more stable and secure.

Smoother collaboration with colleagues

Last but not least, automated patching tends to lead to better relationships between IT and other teams because the faster IT engineers can deploy patches, the less likely they are to hear complaints from other stakeholders about software being out of date.

The security team, for example, will be happier because faster patching means fewer zero-day vulnerabilities. Developers, too, will benefit from having stability and performance fixes applied faster to the software they manage. And even non-technical business users are likely to view the IT team in a more favorable light because they receive software feature enhancements faster and (thanks to the ability to schedule patches during off hours) with fewer disruptions to their workflows when patching is automated.

Conclusion: A Simple but Important Step Toward Happier IT Engineers

There are many considerations that impact IT employee experience, of course, ranging from scheduling, to the types of software stacks that IT teams have to support, to job perks and more. But amid all of these, one of the simplest ways to optimize IT job satisfaction is also the most effective: automated patch management. Tools that can automatically discover and apply patches are relatively low in cost and easy to set up, but they make a tremendous difference when it comes to how rewarding IT teams find their jobs.

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