If your IT organization, like so many today, is in the midst of making the transition from a traditional IT operation to an IT as a Service model, you are likely wrestling with a fundamental question: when is the best time to actually launch your self-service IT Portal?
As the director of EMC’s ongoing IT as a Service program, which launched its first ever self-service IT portal six months ago, I am here to tell you, the sooner the better.
Don’t get me wrong though. It is definitely not an easy endeavor. It will require trying out processes and designs and making adjustment as you go. But the reality is that if you are waiting for the perfect moment to launch your IT portal, it will never arrive.
You need to get that real-time feedback from users; that real-life, trial-and-error process to determine how to make this on-demand, consumer grade shopping approach to IT services work as it should. That dialogue can’t truly begin until users are actually engaged in consuming the services you are offering them.
We spent many long, laborious months prior to our launch, creating our ITaaS model, defining services, marshalling resources, lining up technology and creating financial transparency around our IT operations to allow us to determine service costs.
Once your ITaaS program has certain baseline fundamentals in place, take that next step and launch some catalogue services. You may ask, how do you know you’ve met those baselines? If you’ve gathered feedback from your users and determined their biggest pain points; if you’ve worked with your own IT folks and have the technology to support an IT portal; if you have services available to fulfill some of your user’s demands; and if you have a cost structure and methodology to establish pricing, you are pretty much there.
You can start with a few services and products and enhance your offerings as you go. Once you launch your portal, that is when you really take that first crucial step toward ITaaS. For EMC IT, it brought to life the ITaaS concept, providing users the ability to make informed IT consumption choices from a menu of easily-consumable services based on features, value, service level and price.
Getting the portal up helps you realize that not only are you changing the way IT needs to operate in its own world, but that you need to constantly educate the user community to ensure that they too are ready to change the way they do business with IT.
Late last year, we unveiled preliminary catalogue services to garner feedback from Beta users on everything from features and functionality to product offerings and ease of use. We did an official launch of our portal—which we call infinIT—in January. Users can now order their own desktops and laptops, computer accessories, virtual servers, desktop video conferencing, and more with a few clicks of their mouse.
And as our users begin using this new, one-stop shopping approach to IT services, they are providing feedback on how we need to evolve our own IT processes to meet their needs and address their pain points. From suggestions on how to make ordering more user-friendly, to the need to localize product pricing and information for non-U.S. users, we are constantly hearing and responding to user insights.
We have been encouraging our business partners to participate in an ongoing dialogue to help us continuously improve infinIT. We have also been working very closely with our Service Desk and IT Field Service teams to gather as much feedback as we can to make sure we are listening to the voice of the customer.
If we waited for that perfect moment to launch our IT portal, we wouldn’t have started this crucial dialogue with our customers which are helping us shape our ITaaS offerings going forward. To put it frankly, there is merit in exposing some of your own internal warts.
As we focus on user priorities, it also helps us self-reflect on the need to improve, optimize, and in many cases automate our IT processes. We can no longer hide behind the inefficiencies of a manual provisioning process if we are to compete in today’s increasingly competitive IT world.
Once you have launched your IT portal, you have already stepped into the promised land of self-provisioning and there is no turning back. You have opened the gateway to actively engage with your users. The ITaaS journey has just begun!