Process management expert John Berra has urged businesses not to view IT automation as yet another piece of software, but to regard it as a long-term investment.

Writing at automationworld.com, Mr Berra claimed that automation is not “just technology”, as companies should be choosing their suppliers for the long haul.

Thus, he encouraged them to look into a number of factors when deciding on the right company to partner with.

According to Mr Berra’s advice, one of the most critical issues is how the system handles traffic at peak times. This could include alarm conditions during an upset in the system.

“What happens to controller or highway loading during these upset times?” he asked. “Does the system handle it in stride?”

“Make sure the approach to operator graphics is consistent with your own control room philosophy.”

He also advised paying close attention to the system’s security features, as a lack of protection could force an IT expert to implement additional measures.

Cited by wirelessintegrated.com, Mr Berra said a system’s true capabilities can be discovered through real-world tests, as “real world always beats theory.”

As a true overall test for the technology, he went on to recommend the undertaking of an “out of the box” demonstration, with this involving the testing of a real-world configuration.

“Watch them do it,” he said of the supplier. “See how long it takes and how many support people they need to call in.”