By John Worthington
Automation and standardization benefits IT…and the business
Advances in technology are rapidly enabling new levels of standardization, cost control, pre-authorization and automation far beyond traditional IT environments. This makes it possible to deliver IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), with IT focusing on the outcomes the business needs and functioning much like a business itself. This is particularly true for change request fulfillment.
To boost efficiency, the request fulfillment function utilizes a library of pre-defined and pre-authorized service requests. This can include change requests that have been adequately standardized, but in traditional approaches, many change requests are too complex and risky to be effectively standardized. In these cases, requests need to be handled via the core change and release process, and manual provisioning to fulfill the request can take weeks.
ITaaS allows provisioning to be designed as a standard change that can be handled as a service request and automated via the service catalog management and request fulfillment process instead of via change and release management. This approach can reduce the time-to-provision to hours or even minutes—without involving IT staff.
ITaaS for request fulfillment is vitally important to the success of your organization
The impact of technology-enabled ITaaS on request fulfillment is broad-based and very significant to both the business and IT. In addition to vastly more efficient provisioning, other benefits include:
- Automation of end-to-end delivery and management of infrastructure that allows IT staff to be more productive
- Application deployment and releases that are accelerated
- The ability to leverage re-usable components and policy-based governance that allows for right-sizing of resources or applications at the appropriate service level
- The ability to manage multivendor, multi-cloud infrastructure and applications while leveraging existing infrastructure tools and processes flattens the learning curve
- Reducing time-consuming, manual processes that results in consistent, automated delivery and management of IT services
- Request fulfillment that can establish a library of request models for all users—both business and IT
While these are usually thought of as ‘IT benefits’ they also drive universal business objectives including faster time-to-market, reduced costs, better service levels, and accelerated innovation.
Benefits also include the impact on related processes such as change, release, incident, and access management. These might be such things as:
- Reduction in the backlog of change requests
- Enhanced customer satisfaction, perhaps tied to a specific request model
- Reduction in the use of unauthorized hardware and software, non-standard and variant builds that increase complexity, support costs and risk to the business services
- Fewer exceptions reported during configuration audits
- Fewer incidents caused by request model errors (i.e., incorrect access settings, incorrectly executed fulfillment plan, etc.)
These metrics can be used to compliment base level metrics for request fulfillment depending on the focus of the request models added to the request catalog. As with all metrics, they should be linked to the critical success factors, objectives, and the goals that they support; this can help measure the benefits of improvements to the process.
Planning for success: key terms and roles
A transformation plan is critical as you look to leverage automated, on-demand cloud infrastructures. For example, accelerated ITSM can help bridge the gap between traditional infrastructures and cloud automation by clearly identifying how existing processes, roles, and governance will need to evolve as part of your implementation plan.
As you move forward you will also want to ensure that your team has a solid understanding of basic concepts as well as the increased role that request fulfillment will play in the design stage of the service lifecycle. Taking the time to understand and define some of the terms and roles involved can improve communication and coordination as you consider your ITaaS strategy:
- The service catalog defines the end-to-end processes and supporting IT services that are available. The service catalog management process must ensure that any links and interfaces between the service catalog and the request catalog are maintained.
- The request catalog lists available request models that can facilitate self-service for all users—including IT staff. The request fulfillment process must manage the library of request models and must assume ownership of the request catalog.
Figure 1. Relationship between request fulfillment and service catalog management
- In an ITaaS approach, the number and complexity of request models may increase significantly. The request fulfillment manager must optimize the requests associated with IT services, and make them easier for customers to request, and more efficient for IT to fulfill. To that end, the request fulfillment process owner establishes what specifications must be captured for the request model during the design phase.
- Service owners work with service catalog management to ensure that IT services are well defined, and that standard service requests being fulfilled are associated with the IT service for an easy request process and effective fulfillment. For example, the service owner is accountable for making sure the right subject matter expert is completing the specifications during design.
Ready for a change?
The benefits of an ITaaS approach to request fulfillment are many and far-reaching. But maximizing the benefits requires a studied approach to transformation. Carefully defining IT Services, Standard Service Requests and the supporting processes can help design a catalog architecture that meets your current and evolving requirements.
John Worthington is VMware Transformation Consultant with 30 years experience in the Information Technology industry. John’s been involved in IT Service Management since 2000, is an ITIL® Expert, and holds the PMP and CISA certifications. He is an accredited instructor for all levels of ITIL® certification, as well as a TIPA™ Lead Assessor.