Keep customers smiling with service asset management

In my previous blog I described some of the implications for IT when users are accustomed to instant delivery and they demand that everything be “Like shopping at Apple”. I’ve discussed three areas where the impact is the biggest and where IT has to embrace the changes: request and approval, procurement, and licensing and provisioning.

Most IT organizations have multiple request catalogs aimed at business and IT users as well as end customers. Users often need to search and view multiple catalogs to find exactly what they need before they can order and consume the service from IT.  This is why some of them say they feel like they are “dealing with government” when making a purchase. To improve the user’s engagement experience, IT needs to shift to a service offer catalog that integrates multiple composition catalogs. This single catalog offers information that would normally be found in these separate catalogs:

  • Service request catalog
  • Asset catalog
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service catalog
  • Knowledge database
  • External suppliers’ catalogs

A single service offer catalog enables a service consumption experience that draws consumers in and allows them to easily locate and acquire services, goods, knowledge or support—all without IT intervention. Depending on the nature of the request, one of these composition catalogs usually fulfills the order.

To ensure that a service offer catalog makes it really easy for a consumer to engage with IT, there are several basic, but mandatory, requirements:

 

  • Service offer catalog entries are created from the consumer point of view and contain aggregated catalog items from all providers. Service offer catalogs can be personalized and can support the changing preferences of users.
  • Users’ privileges and restrictions, SLAs and options are rendered from all composition catalogs.
  • Fulfillment is automated, but the fulfillment complexity is hidden from users. Custom fulfillment is considered as incident, so it is easily trackable.
  • There is a function for holistically measuring service usage and consumption and chargeback throughout IT services offering

Let’s look into four important use cases for connecting a service offer catalog with an IT asset management catalog. There are many more use cases which I will not discuss this time, such as asset lookup and submitting modifications, deployment management and dynamic procurement, change management, usage management, knowledge and collaboration, self-service support, bundle request, and so on.

 

Create offering

In order for an IT consumer to order a goods or a service, the asset product catalog needs to be synced with the service offer catalog. Here is an example of items that need to be up-to-date in service offer catalog:

  • New/removed items
  • Price
  • Catalog item changes

By keeping these up-to-date, you enable a single engagement point and catalog-driven service consumption. Also, all request-related activities need to be forwarded and recorded in the asset management system. A service offer catalog needs to enable an intuitive user experience that draws consumers in. For example: The information in the offer catalog needs to be highlighted or hidden based on user profile.

 

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Shop/buy/manage

Users should be able to do common activities, such as browsing the offer catalog, submitting an order in the shopping cart, checking the status of a current request or modify the status of their assets. The integration needs to ensure that users’ authorization and restrictions are applied from the underlying asset catalog and that approvers are automatically notified when a new request is submitted. Approvers also should receive the information they need to review before they can approve or reject it. If approved, the offer should be fulfilled as if were ordered directly from the asset catalog. This is where the intuitive user experience will be confirmed and realized. This is also where users will perceive their IT as new or old.

 

Fulfillment from IT asset management

This use case is concerned with the request fulfillment and execution that’s hidden and usually not known to IT consumers. Examples of this are the following actions that are executed in the background, in IT asset management systems:

  • Lookup of software license availability
  • Check in stock hardware assets
  • Check on license compliance
  • Initiating  PO creation
  • Linking received assets to requested ones

IT users can get status updates and notifications, but do not need to know what’s happening behind the catalog curtains. However, with implementing this use case you ensure your internal and external compliance (when it comes to policies and licenses). You also enable cost reduction of software and hardware and effectively manage your vendors—all while providing a consumer experience to your users.

 

Billing and chargeback

Since the service offer catalog is the single portal for requesting any service or goods, naturally it is the billing and chargeback portal for both internal and external services. While the consumer may view just consumptions reports containing charts and trend analysis; in the background  a lot of information processing needs to happen. For example:

  • Service subscriptions and usage information needs to be consolidated
  • Charges need to be calculated based on different cost models and cost drivers. These  all need to be represented in the appropriate format, granularity and time span.
  • If your IT offers private or hybrid cloud services, you need chargeback or at least showback.

Offering an attractive, consistent and values consumption experience is a new imperative in IT.  A service offer catalog is a great option because it can enable consistency, repeatability and effective time-to-value for users looking to request and obtain any asset from IT. It optimizes both the service consumption and fulfillment experiences. Of course, the key to success is standardized and automated fulfillments that are connected to acquisition requests, routing and deployment. These fulfillments also need to  satisfy business and regulation obligations, in particular in area of software licenses and vendor choice.

We will also discuss this topic at the free “Power to Change” virtual event in the session: Cost-effectively link self-service requests and asset management. The eventincludes a game with prizes, so register for the event here for your chance to win.

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About the Author
Vesna is the senior product marketing manager at HP Software. She has been with HP for 13 years in R&D, product management and product marke...
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