Workflow Wizards: Reverse engineering helps Dustin cultivate a culture of automation success

Discover how Dustin Lepi reverse engineers his way to automation success. Join our Workflow Wizards series to see who is best suited for automation expertise.
Workflow Wizards: Reverse engineering helps Dustin cultivate a culture of automation success
December 12, 2023

Welcome to the latest iteration of our Workflow Wizard series, designed to showcase automation experts who are transforming MSPs into streamlined powerhouses. Recently, we spoke with Dustin Lepi, an Automation Engineer at Network It Easy to discuss his journey from farming to automation expertise.

From his early experiences tinkering with broken farm equipment to his role as an Automation Engineer, Dustin’s ability to reverse engineer problems offers valuable insights for both seasoned and new Rest users.

Read on to discover how Rewst continues to be a catalyst for Dustin’s innovation. His story perfectly mirrors the process of planting creative seeds, nurturing them through automation, and cultivating a community and culture of success.

What is your professional background?

I come from a background of physical labor, including farming, construction, and plumbing. However, due to a back injury, I decided to transition to the tech industry. I started by working in a residential computer repair shop for a college professor and eventually moved on to the SMB world, which ultimately led to automation engineering within my MSP.

Did you have any automation experience before Rewst?

I had heard about RPA through a family member’s business using UiPath but hadn’t done much with it myself. I started to dip my toes in automation through our RMM. As a field technician, I was prepping new computers and installing firewalls and other software. I was lining up 15 computers and going one by one, performing the same tasks non-stop. Eventually, I began learning PowerShell and tried to find one task a week to automate, like installing Chrome, configuring power settings, installing VPN, and so on.

I’ve learned so much since transitioning to Rewst. I didn’t know how to use APIs then or how to manipulate a JSON object, but Rewst has helped streamline so many of those tasks to make it accessible for beginners. My view of automation back then was automating individual tasks with our RMM, but it pales in comparison to what you can do with Rewst.

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

I first learned about Rewst through a discussion on Discord. I was searching for a way to enhance my ticketing system, and Adam from the ROC team mentioned it as an option. My initial reaction, and everyone else on Discord that day, was that Rewst was awesome. We were all interested.

I heard someone say, “Rewst is the glue that holds everything together.” You have all these different platforms that can send information back and forth, and Rewst connects these tools so you can do true end-to-end automation. Rewst seemed like magic, and the idea of an RPA platform tailored for MSPs was intriguing.

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

I was one of Rewst’s early adopters, so there wasn’t as much content and documentation as you have now. I remember I asked ChatGPT questions about Jinga, and I used the community Discord channel heavily. Members were always willing to share their knowledge and experiences, making it easier to grasp the platform’s capabilities.

Since then, I’ve gone back through all of the Cluck U training, and it’s awesome. The documentation and education courses are wonderful because they walk you through everything.

What’s your approach to building a new workflow?

My approach to building a new workflow depends on the specific task. Sometimes, I brainstorm ideas for a while, and then the missing piece will come to me when I least expect it. Other times, I start by tracing out the logical steps as placeholders without executing actions and then gradually refine the workflow.

We’re working towards an existing process that’s written out on a piece of paper, drawn out, collaborated on, and then built and tweaked. Collaborative discussion with the team often plays an important role in shaping the final workflow.

What are some workflows you’ve built?

I’ve created numerous workflows in Rewst. What I love about it is the ability to extract something and use it for sub-workflows. One of the first ones that stands out is a workflow to clean up firewall alerts. It saves us several hours a week by automating the process of checking tickets every 5 minutes and closing alerts. That first workflow made me realize how powerful Rewst is.

Related: To learn more about the time Network IT Easy is saving with Rewst, check out the case study.

Another workflow I’m proud of is a self-service licensing system for our techs and customers. It uses a form to select the customer, user, and licenses you want. If you don’t have it, Pax8 will buy it. It streamlines the process of acquiring and managing licenses.

We have Crates we’ve unpacked, and then we’re building custom workflows as well. What I’m good at is reverse engineering. So, I might not know exactly how to do it, but if I can see how someone else has done it, I can take it and tweak what I need to work for me. For example, we tweaked the customer MFA report Crate so it automatically drops data into a SharePoint site each day, where it’s visualized with PowerBI. We’ve also done a lot of other mini projects with cloud migrations rolling out conditional access to our clients.

How has Rewst impacted your role at your company?

Rewst played a significant role in pushing my transition to an Automation Engineer title. Automation is something I’ve always loved to do. Growing up, I tinkered with broken farm equipment and broke it down into its individual parts just to see how it worked. When something breaks on the farm, there is no new shiny part to fix it with. It takes engineering and ingenuity to solve the problem. I told our management I wanted to move into an automation role when we had the chance. When we discovered Rewst, we knew it was a platform here to stay, so my MSP decided to put dedicated resources towards that.

Now, my official title is Automation Engineer. I get to say I automate for a living, which is pretty cool. The platform’s flexibility and power allowed me to explore automation in-depth, and it has become a vital tool in my daily work.

What advice do you have for new Rewst users?

I recommend starting with the educational courses, whether you attend live or watch the on-demand videos. I also suggest thoroughly exploring the documentation. Getting your head wrapped around Jinga can be tough, but there is so much information out there to help.

Use Discord or Slack to connect with the Rewst community and seek help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and experiment. There’s no dumb question. We are all there to support each other.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I always loved swimming. I was in a latchkey program after school and was at the YMCA three days a week. I was drawn to the ocean and the idea of exploring it.

What do you do for fun?

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family as much as possible. My girlfriend and I got a puppy a few months ago and he’s been keeping us extremely busy! He’s a hunting dog and loves the woods, so we try to take him out on trails and hikes as much as we can.

I’ve also enjoyed video games when it felt like there were more hours in a day. I’m drawn to games like Minecraft, where there’s this “metagame” based on automation and efficiency. I always joked that Rewst is like Minecraft - it’s this vast sandbox world with a handful of rules to abide by, but overall, your imagination is the limit to what you can build.

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