I completely agree with automating everything and have been doing that since day one. I automate everything from data loading processes, I probably have about 200 daily and monthly, to file management to ftp using primarily tsql and dos commands and am just now getting into powershell.
Due to errors which occurred when I first started, I always include steps in my jobs to make sure the data is available, make sure it is the current days' data and make sure it is not in the process of being loaded as well as other similar verification processes. I do everything I can to not only automate but make sure they run reliably without error regardless of what the source has done, at least the best we can.
I love the ideas listed for other automation purposes sql_expat listed. If you have scripts to share for some of those I'd love to see them.
I am also in the process of doing exactly what blackheartbilly suggested, creating a central repository of sql backups. I have plans on implementing a process to schedule automated periodic restores, logging those, and providing them via sql reporting to management and business continuance for disaster recovery verification as well as meeting the needs of auditors. Black, if you don't mind sharing your script I'd love to see that as well. I already have a plan for how I intend on implementing this but would be interesting in comparing.
Good article by the way. This is something I truly believe in and would have 10 people working for me otherwise or be coming in at 3:00am to make sure data was available and being processing data. I don't even know how I would do my job without automating; it is normally one of the first things on my mind the second a new data request comes in.