The workers in your company have countless ways they can bypass IT, and they’ll do it even if they’ve been told not to.
One key to delivering the services that end users want is making sure they don’t have to wait six weeks for requests to be fulfilled. The service catalog is your chance to show your business the value of IT service delivery. Staying relevant in a world of clouds and BYOD means that IT departments have to redefine themselves as service providers rather than fixers of stuff. One of the best ways to make that transition is to create a service catalog where end users can order IT products and services as they would order a cookbook from Amazon.
Here are some ways to make sure you’re giving end users the experience they want when they order IT services.
Get the Interface Right
A comfortable and familiar user interface is critical to making your service catalog friendly and actionable. Think about the interfaces of your favorite ecommerce sites. Browsing, searching, and putting things into a shopping cart are actions that everyone is familiar with, so giving end users a look and feel similar to favorite online retailers puts them at ease. The designer who is bringing on an intern for the semester can go to the service catalog, look around for a bit to see what’s new, put a laptop and necessary software into his shopping cart, and “check out” knowing that approvers will automatically be notified so the “purchase” can go through. The benefits include faster end-user adoption of the service catalog and greater appreciation for the value of IT service delivery.
You’re There to Solve Business Problems
It’s not always easy for IT professionals to envision themselves as solvers of business problems, but that’s ultimately what they do. The focus should be on what the business and its end users are looking for, which will be couched in terms of “innovation” and “agility” rather than “higher utilization” and “cost reduction.” Sure, it’s great to be the IT hero who revives an ailing server in time for payroll to avoid having to manually print checks, but the service delivery mindset means IT has to focus on enabling business processes.
Don’t Forget That Your End-Users Are Humans
C’mon, Ann in R&D isn’t that bad, is she?
Sure, you probably have some choice nicknames for some of your most challenging end users, but when you create your service catalog you have to remember that their point of view is, “I need this. Now how do I ‘order’ it?” Think about a recent shopping trip on Amazon or a similar site. The page for the product you need describes the item in plain, accessible terms. You can click on links to learn technical specs if you want, but your description of the awesome new gadget you want is written in consumer-friendly terms. For the best service catalog experience, you should review your catalog quarterly to fix mistakes or take out options that nobody ever uses. And periodically, you will need to add services to it as well.
Don’t Expect Perfection Overnight
Changing the mentality of IT services from “fixers of technology” to “enablers of business” means that your IT workers will have to adapt and change. Some changes are simple enough to be accomplished through informal training, while bigger changes may need some formalized training. Your IT professionals already know what to do when a help request ticket is assigned to them, but do they know what to do when someone virtually rolls up with their virtual shopping cart full of IT goods and services? IT success is increasingly measured in terms of the success of the overall organization rather than tight technology control and cost containment.
Valid or not, a lot of organizations imagine their IT professionals as a room full of Grumpy Cat memes with the word “no” permanently affixed to them. Making the transition to a “yes-based” department requires hard work, a change in attitude, and sometimes additional formal training. But it’s worth it in terms of better business flow, better relationships with end users, and more efficient delivery of IT services.