Workflow Wizards: How Dustin Riley delivers a roadmap of automations

Discover how Dustin Riley crafts workflows, enhances service, and fosters innovation with Rewst at his organization. Join our Workflow Wizards series.
Workflow Wizards: How Dustin Riley delivers a roadmap of automations
April 18, 2024

Welcome to the fifth installment of our Workflow Wizards series, where we highlight the exceptional individuals driving automation success within the MSP community. In our previous article, we showcased Brian Simpson from Karpel Solutions, illustrating the impact of his integrations, which saved his organization a substantial $60,000 by avoiding a PSA migration.

Now, we’re thrilled to introduce Dustin Riley, an Automation Director whose expertise cultivates a culture of innovation by aligning priorities based on effort versus reward for quarterly planning. Dustin’s journey with Rewst at CisCom Solutions reflects a commitment to innovation, efficiency, and enhancing customer experiences.

Follow along as we show how Dustin’s appreciation for technology at a young age led him to automation success. Discover how his existing programming experience helps him balance new automations with existing workflow enhancements and fosters an innovative company culture. Ultimately, Dustin’s comprehensive approach to automation benefits CisCom Solutions through the growth and retention of its employees and clients.

What is your professional background?

I’ve worked in IT for over 17 years, holding a bachelor’s degree in IT security, followed by an MBA. For the last 16 years, I’ve been a part of CisCom Solutions, starting as a support technician and working my way up to my current position as Director of Automation. Over the years, I’ve gained valuable knowledge and expertise in IT, and my experience with CisCom Solutions has provided me with a unique perspective on the business.

Did you have any automation experience before Rewst?

Before using Rewst, I spearheaded our company’s ConnectWise Automate operations. My programming background helped shape my journey in automation. I’ve dabbled in multiple languages, including C#, Rust, JavaScript, PowerShell, and even some Python. These experiences, though initially pursued as hobbies, equipped me with a solid foundation for tackling automation challenges.

How were you introduced to Rewst? What was your initial reaction?

While Automate is a powerful tool, at the end of the day it’s still an RMM. I found myself overworking and stretching its capabilities beyond its intended use. I was creating advanced searches, adding extra data fields, and incorporating additional scripts. While these tasks were feasible, they pushed the system to its limits. There came a point where I realized we needed a solution that could handle more.

Rewst emerged as the perfect platform to address my automation challenges like new user onboarding. Having seen its potential firsthand at IT Nation Secure, I took the initiative to advocate for its adoption within our organization. I convinced our leadership team that Rewst was a necessary investment to enhance our automation and operational capabilities.

What was most helpful when learning Rewst? Did you have any ‘Cluck yeah!’ moments?

I started with Rewst before the Cluck University training was built out to where it is today. So, I heavily relied on the supportive community, particularly in Discord. While I had a programming background, the insights from the community helped me grasp the possibilities of Rewst.

I distinctly remember encountering a scenario where I was grappling with a particular aspect of a workflow. Through this challenge, I suddenly realized the broader potential of Rewst. I realized I could leverage data from an existing Crate, connect various sub-workflows together, and integrate them into my overarching automation. This moment of insight allowed me to expand the scope of automation possibilities beyond what I had initially envisioned.

What are some workflows you’ve built? Which one are you most proud of?

Among the workflows I’ve developed, there are a couple that stand out. One of them draws inspiration from Rewst’s ticket sentiment analysis Crate. I expanded on the existing Crate by storing numerical values as additional data fields in ConnectWise. I then crafted another workflow to aggregate this data. I ended up with an endpoint accessible by Power BI, that analyzes customer sentiment trends over time. Essentially, I’m taking the sentiment from a specific ticket, and combining it with the history I have over a number of tickets to see how a customer’s sentiment is trending.

Ticket Sentiment Analysis Crate

Another workflow we built addresses a common challenge many of our clients face—migrating data into SharePoint. We used Rewst to automate the creation of OneDrive shortcuts for users. Previously, technicians spent several hours handling this migration but now it’s completed swiftly in just a few steps.

For instance, onboarding and technician forms trigger the OneDrive shortcut workflow ensuring seamless integration into our existing processes.

In terms of volume, we’ve developed over 150 workflows, although it’s important to note that many of these are sub-workflows and modular components rather than standalone entities. This modular approach allows for greater flexibility and scalability in our automation endeavors.

What’s your approach to building a new workflow?

We use Microsoft Forms to crowdsource automation ideas from technicians and leadership. Then, I meet with management and evaluate an automation’s time saving capabilities vs. time to build. That helps us determine which automations to place on our Microsoft planner for the year. The planner is a roadmap broken into quarters.

Regarding our roadmap, we strive to balance creating new workflows and enhancing existing ones. Approximately 25% of our roadmap is dedicated to improving and optimizing our existing workflows, while the remaining 75% focuses on developing new automation solutions to meet emerging requirements and challenges. This balanced approach allows us to build upon our successes while embracing innovation and growth.

Then, we build. Once the workflow reaches a testable stage, my automation engineer and I thoroughly assess its functionality. We promptly address any issues or areas for improvement. Once we deploy the workflow, we encourage a continuous feedback loop between ourselves and technicians. This ensures our workflows remain dynamic and responsive to evolving needs.

How has Rewst impacted your role at CisCom Solutions?

Initially, our goal with automation was straightforward time savings. As I progressed, my perspective evolved. Having an automation team made me realize automation is all about support and customer service.

This job is customer service augmented by technical expertise. Automation is a vehicle to elevate this service to a higher standard—a “white glove” approach. It lets us engage with clients during onboarding, understand their unique needs, and tailor our solutions to fit their precise requirements.

With the addition of another automation engineer, we’re transitioning towards a model where workflow creation gets distributed among team members. So, everything won’t be solely on my shoulders anymore. We’ve also instituted Rewst certifications as a prerequisite for workflow development. By investing in our team’s skill development, we avoid drudgery work and enable them to do things they enjoy. We’re poised to scale our automation efforts effectively and deliver even more value to our clients.

What advice do you have for new Rewst users?

I have three critical pieces of advice for anyone starting on the Rewst platform. First, I recommend joining the Rewst Discord community. It’s an invaluable resource to connect with fellow users and experts, tapping into a wealth of collective knowledge and support. Whether you’re troubleshooting an issue or seeking guidance on a particular feature, someone in the community has encountered a similar challenge and can offer assistance.

Second, make sure to explore the Rewst documentation and training materials thoroughly. These resources provide comprehensive insights into the platform’s capabilities, features, and best practices. Investing in your understanding of Rewst through structured learning will empower you to unlock its full potential and streamline your automation workflows effectively.

Last, don’t hesitate to dive into the platform and start experimenting. Creating test workflows and tinkering with different functionalities allows you to familiarize yourself with Rewst’s interface. Embrace this hands-on approach—it’s invaluable for gaining practical experience and discovering innovative ways to leverage automation for your specific needs.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Since I was about ten years old, I knew I wanted a career involving computers. I vividly recall the excitement of getting my hands on a computer in 1994—it sparked a fascination that has persisted ever since. Despite not knowing the exact trajectory at that age, I was confident that my future would revolve around technology.

What do you do for fun?

In my downtime, I indulge in a passion that’s been with me since my early days of tinkering with computers: Indie game development. It’s a hobby I thoroughly enjoy, crafting and designing games in my spare time. While I haven’t publicly released any of my projects I enjoy the creative process and experimentation. It’s purely a hobby— a way to unwind and explore my creativity without pressure or expectations.

Meet Dustin Riley and other like-minded automation enthusiasts at FLOW.

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