In the age of cloud computing, much has been made of the changing face of corporate IT. Teams are no longer responsible for just a behind-the-scenes, keep-the-lights-on type of IT service. They now find themselves transforming to be a more customer-facing provider of streamlined IT services to end users. As such, IT as a service (ITaaS) has become a popular choice for closing the service gap between corporate IT and its more successful, public cloud counterparts.
With successful public cloud providers, customers access easy-to-use web portals with useful, self-service menus of available IT services. Corporate ITaaS has the same goal of creating self-service portals — complete with a menu of selectable, automated IT services. It sounds straightforward enough, but attempts at these types of ITaaS portals often end up falling flat. This slideshow shares five reasons why many self-service ITaaS portals just aren’t working, as identified by Steve Nassif, senior manager of cloud service management, at Datalink.
About the author: Steve Nassif is Datalink’s senior manager of cloud service management. He and his team work closely with midrange and enterprise companies to realize the benefits of cloud computing in their own environments.
Why ITaaS Portals Are Failing
Click through for five reasons why many self-service ITaaS portals just aren’t working, as identified by Steve Nassif, senior manager of cloud service management, at Datalink.
Do you have the right audience focus?
Most IT organizations design their self-service portal to appeal to a small subgroup of end users, such as application developers. These subgroups often represent 10 percent or less of the organization’s total audience. That’s the wrong approach and the wrong target audience for the first foray into self-service ITaaS portals. While meeting the needs of specific subgroups is important, IT should first focus the bulk of its portal efforts on meeting the needs of the other 90 percent of their organization.
Does your self-service catalog offer what users really want?
Even if IT teams focus on the correct audience as the target for their self-service portals, many then fail the next test: Offering the right menu of services that answer end users’ top needs. Believe it or not, most end users in your organization don’t come to an ITaaS portal because they need a new VM or a certain amount of storage. (You may ultimately set up new VMs and new infrastructures for users’ projects, but users don’t come to a portal thinking along these lines.) Instead, users often come to a portal with a specific problem or use case they are trying to solve. They hope the portal’s IT services will address it, thereby helping them do their jobs better or faster. How well do the services offered on your ITaaS portal address users’ hidden problems or use cases?
Do users have trouble figuring out what to do?
ITaaS portals may target the right audience and may even offer most of the right IT services, but can fall short in how easy and intuitive their portal interface is to use. Developing a good user interface that works for your users is not as easy as it looks. To make it simple, you have to first work through some fairly complex end-user requirements.
No Way to Measure Success
Does your ITaaS portal have fuzzy or non-existent ROI?
Your IT organization may have invested significant time and money into developing a self-service ITaaS portal for its end users. Once it’s done, however, it’s not always easy to see if the result was worth the cost. Measurements of success should be scoped at the start of the project. These include everything from key performance indicators (KPI) to subjective input from the user community. Many IT teams don’t look hard enough at how a portal’s IT services might succeed at removing many previously manual steps for end users. The more an IT team can specify how much time or money is now being saved by users who’ve since used the portal, the more successful teams will be at gaining budget approval for other, similar IT projects.
Did you test your portal first on a smaller subgroup of users?
Successful ITaaS portals often begin as a smaller project with limited rollout first to a select handful of business unit representatives. The value of this early pilot phase gives you a built-in feedback loop from key stakeholders about how the early portal is doing. This pilot often occurs with little-to-no publicizing of the portal’s existence to the rest of the organization. Once the portal is deemed ready for primetime, internal marketing and publicizing of the portal services may then include positive feedback of your pilot’s early users who now help spread the word, encouraging the portal’s wider use.