Request Management Potential is Still Unrealized

While reviewing some sales and technical materials to see what needs updating, I was struck by how some content–such as the white paper Using Service Catalogs to Run IT As a Business (Not Like a Business)–written a while back still remains very current.

The Past and Future of Service CatalogsFor example:

” In most large organizations, the employees who rely on IT to provide and support the myriad devices and software applications that help them do their jobs have only a minimal appreciation for how these devices and applications really work. Consequently, the IT department’s importance to keeping the organization running is seldom fully appreciated.”

Still true? To a large extent, yes. Though in the case of certain devices (e.g., smartphones), users understand quite well how they work. They’ve just placed the burden on IT to figure out how they work with everything else in the corporate information technology stack.

The paper also notes that:

“Though service catalogs can provide clear benefits across an organization, many IT organizations are taking an unnecessarily complex and expensive approach to their implementation. One reason is that IT organizations fail to appreciate that they are already doing much of what is required for successful service catalog implementation; there is no need for excessively complex and expensive service catalog applications that require them to re-engineer their operations.”

Indeed,  this situation still seems more common than it should be, with organizations more focused on “projects” than on “outcomes.”

Most important though is this:

” IT roles in the past have been highly technical and often specialized. Service catalogs will result in more business-focused service ownership. Since service catalogs enable IT to run as a business, services owners will need more business skills as opposed to purely technical skills. And service owners will eventually utilize reporting to identify the types of people who should be taking advantage of their services. This will allow them to send marketing materials to potential users and educate all users on different functions in an application.”

For many organizations, this paragraph may well have been written yesterday. They may be planning a service catalog implementation in IT, or have an active project, or may even be using a service catalog for a subset of IT functions, but it’s gone no further than that. Service catalogs, and request management portals more broadly, can improve the user experience and delivery of IT services, no question. But the real value in these systems will be unlocked only when business process owners in departments beyond IT–such as facilities, human resources, accounting, marketing and others–are able to easily build and manage their own request management portals.

Perhaps the corporate world is moving slowly on this front. Or perhaps this white paper was just very prescient.

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