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Michael Biddick
Michael Biddick
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Make IT 'Storefront' A Reality With Service Catalogs

Adoption of ITIL v3 has helped promote the concept of Service Catalogs that provide self-service requests and can be used for IT procurement and workflow automation.

For large enterprises, the procurement of IT hardware, software, and services is in desperate need of an overhaul. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra would like to see the GSA provide a central location for ordering these services, and eventually to move its IT procurement processes away from schedules and toward what he calls a "storefront" model.The vision is simple. Agencies buy IT products and services with the same ease of online shopping.

Kundra's vision should be a model for all IT organizations and the reality of self-service IT is here today. Consumers have become experts using online shopping sites like and eBay, and as corporate users they are starting to questions why they can't have this same experience ordering IT services.

Tracking status, speeding delivery time, bundling options together (recommended by your profile) and getting automated approval will be the next major wave of innovation in corporate IT. What this really means is self-service IT.

Over 15 years ago, everyone was excited about the ability to open and track trouble-tickets online, one less phone call to make. Surprisingly, there has been little self-service progress since then. In some environments, even when the "Storefront" is automated the actual work and components to complete the tasks is often manual and labor intensive.

A selling factor to deploy these self-service solutions for organizations may be that IT self-service benefits the organization even more than the users. With self-service systems, IT managers have the ability to offer measurable SLA and develop OLAs with their partners that can be measured and actually enforced. Specific demand modeling and costs for services can all be tracked and reported on in a fee-for-service, charge-back or accounting environment.

Many of the manual processes involved with routine functions like new employee processing, Blackberry, laptop, phone ordering or even other non-IT request can all be automated in self-service, Service Catalogs. While simple items could be ordered, complex multi-component bundles could be packaged together as well to provide overall solutions based on what has worked at other divisions, agencies or departments.

The move toward standardization will ultimately be the biggest cost reduction for IT organizations and the ability to centrally procure IT services, using an actionable, self-service Service Catalog is a step in that direction.

More adoption of ITIL v3 has helped promote the concept of Service Catalogs and while some organizations are implementing paper-based catalogs (or at least know what one is), the self-service revolution will come in actionable, online, live Service Catalogs. Unlike other pie-in-the-sky initiatives, this one could be a reality today, with almost a dozen vendors providing solutions in this area. They could even make ordering new IT products and services fun!Adoption of ITIL v3 has helped promote the concept of Service Catalogs that provide self-service requests and can be used for IT procurement and workflow automation.

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