IT Service Strategy: Catalogs and Portals
Part 2 in our global analysis of IT transformation
IT organizations are experiencing a cultural revolution. CIOs want to run IT like a customer-focused business. They want to empower users with self-service and enable them to make value-based consumption decisions. This means packaging IT services for easy consumption by the business, providing financial transparency through unit-based pricing and billing, and developing processes, roles, and skills to successfully manage the supply and demand side of the portfolio.
As I mentioned in my last blog, EMC and VMware have been doing workshops on IT transformation with our customers for several years now. We recently analyzed the data collected during these workshops. The top gap, identified by all organizations, is their ability to provide and efficiently manage user requests through a service catalog and self-service portal. 80% plan to have a self-service portal and service catalog in place by the 2016-2017 timeframe.
What’s the best way to do that? We recommend you begin with a few impactful services – perhaps test/dev provisioning for programmers with a couple for business users and IT. Document those services in clear, easy-to-understand language. After that, put in place an iterative process to define additional services and refine the existing ones.
Here’s the 8-week process that we recommend to build a service catalog.
- Start by analyzing any existing service catalog, the service management processes, and governance of the services. Do this with both IT management and the business.
- Create an organizing services hierarchy and taxonomy for defining and describing services.
- Identify the most impactful services. Then develop an initial service catalog for those services. This would include detailed service definitions and a blueprint solution architecture that includes service request processes and the decision logic for mapping service tiers to supporting technology.
- Based on the findings from analyzing the current governance process, develop service center charters to define service development mission and vision and the scope of services to be developed.
- Create a roadmap for achieving a comprehensive future state service catalog and a self-service portal that the business can use to access the services.
When it comes to a portal, we see many people who are concerned that without a mature service catalog a portal serves no purpose. One of the great benefits of a portal is that you can gain value from creating one regardless of where you are on your journey to ITaaS.
You can accomplish a great deal just by creating a storefront. By making information available about services you provide today (even if they are manually delivered), you can avoid some of the “can you do” questions. To most business users of services, IT is a black box and a mystery. Providing information is a good first step even if you are not ready to automate a lot of your processes.
Here’s an analogy. Think of the early days of eCommerce. Websites were facades only to mask manual processes. The value was that it provided an easy way for customers to shop and order products whenever they wanted to, without knowing that everything behind the website was actually fulfilled manually. Of course, like the early eCommerce vendors, you want to be thinking about how to automate at least the most critical services so you can react more quickly and be more responsive, but you can get a lot of value by creating that storefront for the business while you automate.
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