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Self Service IT: Not as Scary as it Sounds

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Stuart Power Mar 2014This article has been contributed by Stuart Power, UK Sales Manager at Matrix42.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked for a number of companies at which, as a new employee, it has taken days or weeks to be given the technology I need to do my job. I’ve no doubt it’s still happening in many organisations today. But as the proportion of ‘digital natives’ in the workforce increases, that scenario is becoming less and less acceptable. More importantly, it is becoming a serious business risk, rather than just a temporary inconvenience. Why? Because today’s employees expect to be able to use technology at work in the same way as they do in their personal lives. That means switching between devices at will, and accessing software and services at their convenience, often through a central app store. If that’s not possible, they are more likely to look for employment elsewhere.

Giving employees this kind of control over technology is a scary prospect for many corporate IT departments. But with the right approach to enabling user self service, the reality can be more fulfilling than frightening.

 

Start with the User, Not the Technology

Enabling your employees with self service access to the technology tools they need requires a fundamental shift in the way you deliver IT to users. Rather than the IT department acting as a local supplier of heterogeneous hardware and software, it needs to become a provider of standardised services – all delivered and managed from a central IT service/workspace management system. The process starts with the definition of a service portfolio (the needs of the business that the IT department must fulfil) and a service catalog (the actions required in terms of technology delivery to meet the business need). Importantly, both the service portfolio and the service catalog must be built around the needs of your employees, not the established capabilities and processes of the IT department. Once these needs and services have been defined, they can be realised within your chosen ITSM/workspace management solution, which should ideally feature an app store interface that gives users a consumer-style experience when choosing and consuming corporate IT services. That solution should also automate every service-related process, from order to approval and delivery, right through to on-going maintenance and management.

 

Standardise Services, Establish Value

Automating processes is all well and good. But automating a bad process is often worse than leaving it alone, because in an integrated ITSM system, the consequences will automatically impact other processes. That’s why it’s so important to standardise the processes within each service as much as possible, and thereby minimise the potential for error.

Equally as important is ensuring that users understand the value of the service they receive. If no cost or value is attached to a service, users will consume it at will, creating additional and uncertain cost and workload for the IT department. Equally, if a price is attached to a service without defining every aspect of the service being provided, business users and managers will invariably see only the hardware or application they are consuming. The accompanying admin, networking, security, support, management and maintenance work will be invisible. As a result, they may try to circumvent the service catalog because they will perceive the service to be expensive and believe that they can get it cheaper elsewhere. Both of these scenarios can be avoided with a centralised service portfolio and catalog that provide clear price/performance definitions for each service.

 

Five Steps to Self Service Success

So, you’ve made the decision. You want to give business users the consumer-style IT experience they expect, and prove the value of IT to your business. At Matrix42, we believe there are 5 essential success factors to be aware of, however you choose to implement user self service.

1. Define and standardise services

Efficient self service in corporate IT requires every service to be standardised around particular usage scenarios, such as the onboarding of a new sales person, and automated at every stage of the service lifecycle. Once this has been achieved, it becomes easier to make small adjustments that may be necessary for specific locations, such as linking PC orders to a local hardware supplier.

2. Integrate all the necessary processes

Ideally, users, managers and IT departments should all be using one IT service delivery and workspace management system that integrates all the IT and business processes required to order, approve, deliver and manage an IT service. This ensures cost and status transparency for all, and maximises IT service management efficiency.

3. Give everything a value

Services without costs attached encourage users to consume them freely, regardless of whether they are actually necessary for their work. To avoid unnecessary expenditure and workload, every IT service must be clearly and realistically described and priced. This ensures the cost of service consumption and expected service quality are transparent and predictable for users and approvers.

4. Ensure compliance

Your ITSM system should enable you to create and manage the relevant license agreements for each service centrally. This requires that your service catalog is integrated with your compliance solution, which should proactively alert managers to any over or under licensing. This will enable them to avoid compliance failures and continuously optimise costs.

5. Make it accessible from any device

Many of your users don’t work in one place on one device, so they expect to be able to order and use a service from wherever they are, and on whichever device they are using at the time. A complete, centralised IT service and workspace management solution will ensure that each service only needs to be ordered once for it to be made available on multiple devices.

 

Conclusion

With device and software diversity increasing all the time, and an ever-more demanding and sophisticated user base, greater IT complexity within organisations is almost inevitable. Introducing user self service into ITSM is one of the most important tools at your disposal for simplifying the management of that complexity.




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