Automate like a Service Provider – Part II
In my previous post, we discussed adding automation and self-service provisioning to your existing IT services. In this blog post, I’ll share some suggestions to help make it a reality.
Mature the Delivery of IT Services
Step 1: Identify the Service
Analyze your ticketing system and determine which requests for IT services are fairly mundane and repeatable, but also high volume. By starting with one of these services you will be able to quickly prove the value of moving to a service model. Server provisioning is usually a good service to offer initially, for example, a fully-configured Linux or Windows virtual machine available on-demand.
Step 2: Identify the Consumer
Determine who is your consumer, what are their needs, and what is their preferred consumption model – will they want to utilize a catalog to request and manage the service? Would they rather consume the service via API? Will the consumer interact with the system at all, or will there be an intermediary such as an operations team? Ideally, partner with your consumer from the outset. Understand how they request services, how they manage them from day 2, and how and why they release those resources when they are no longer needed.
Step 3: Identify the Service Owner
Identify a resource as the service owner. This resource will work with the business units and developers and the IT teams involved in providing the service. They will own the lifecycle of the service, including which features are considered the minimal viable product (MVP) for the service and the lifecycle of the service – from the initial release, through feature updates, and the retirement of the service. The resource should understand the needs of the business and map them to use cases. They should understand enough of the technical implications of providing the service to be able to prioritize feature updates so that they make the most sense from both the business and technical perspectives. This role is critical to the successful transition into an internal service provider.
Note: This role is similar to the concept of the role of ITIL Service Owner or SCRUM Product Owner, but you do not have to be strictly adhering to either discipline to start realizing the benefits of making an individual accountable for the lifecycle of a service. This role can mature as you adopt a more formalized service strategy.
Step 4: Identify the Stakeholders
The Service Owner is responsible for identifying the stakeholders and identifying the outcomes for each. These will need to be identified and communicated early in the process and revisited throughout the lifecycle of the service. The success of the service is dependant on meeting stakeholder needs, and these will need to be prioritized across business, technical, process and policy outcomes.
Step 5: Map out the Existing Process
Determine what the process is to deliver that service today. Not what you think it is, or what you have been told it is, but actually sit down with the consumer and walk through the process from start to finish. You will be amazed at how many steps are undocumented, inconsistent, or add complexity but no real value. Decide what is critical to providing the service and start there.
Step 6: Automate the Minimal Viable Components
While it may be tempting to update and improve processes as you automate them, be careful. This can very quickly lead to scope creep and indeterminate delays. Services have a lifecycle of their own and will constantly be improved and updated. The important thing at this stage of the process is to deliver something. Delays will undermine confidence and slow momentum.
Step 7: Measure, Report, Promote
Metrics are critical to proving the success of the solution. The Service Owner should work with the business and technical teams to identify KPIs early on (provisioning time, build quality). Report on and share this information. You can build the greatest service in the company, but if nobody knows about it then it is not adding business value. You will need to prove success with each service delivered to be able to prioritize working on the next one.
Step 8: Rinse, Repeat
Now that you have proven to your consumers and your leadership that transitioning to a service-based delivery model makes sense for your organization, build on that success. Select the next service you want to deliver and repeat the process.
While this may seem oversimplified, starting small and building on small successes can quickly build into much larger success. You may also have noticed that none of these steps refer to a specific technology. That is because any transformation involves much more than technology. Selecting the right technology, however, can make the difference between spending time building services and functionality that directly improve user experience, or spending months writing custom code and processes that are difficult to support and manage in the long-term.
vRealize Automation Cloud is our next-generation automation platform, building on the industry-leading vRealize platform. With the most out-of-the-box functionality, native third-party integrations, and flexible extensibility of any cloud management solution we make automating complex processes easier than ever.
Automate Like A Service Provider With vRealize Automation – Part I (From IT Operator to IT Service Provider)
If you haven’t already, you can get started with a free 30-day trial now!