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3 Ways Self-Service Portals Can Help IT Teams Handle Consumerization

05/27/2015 by: The SunView Team

Consumerization is a legitimate challenge that IT departments face. While technology and support leaders may be open to the idea of giving customers some freedom when it comes to selecting services, organizations need to fight against the development of shadow IT departments. Self-service portals can help IT teams win out in this situation by giving them the tools they need to create a consumer-like experience within the enterprise without sacrificing control.

Shadow IT departments have been getting plenty of attention in recent months because on one hand, they are a huge threat to IT stability while on the other they drive business flexibility. Organizations increasingly want to empower their workers with technology, and if letting users control which solutions they subscribe to makes those employees more engaged and productive, many companies won't complain about a few challenges. The problem is that shadow IT doesn't just create budget organization issues; it also exposes businesses to major security, regulatory and data accessibility risks. Although giving users control is valuable, you need enough governance in place to protect your business. This is where service catalogs come into play.

Self-service portals coupled with service catalogs give organizations the blend of control and flexibility they need by letting IT control what apps users can access, while also empowering employees to freely choose from an approved group of solutions. Three ways this is especially useful in response to IT consumerization include:

1. Create a Virtual Storefront
If business users are excited about the opportunity to access an app store or marketplace to choose how they will get the job done, give it to them. However, you may not want to expose your corporate data via 3rd party consumer app distribution platforms, so you'll have to create your own store. A service catalog lets you create an approved list of apps and services that users can peruse at their leisure and choose the right solution for their specific needs. In this way, you give them the consumer-like power of choice, but you still control which apps can be accessed and have clear documentation of how many users are subscribing to different services.

2. Automate Provisioning
A self-service portal will feature process management tools that will automate the vast majority of tasks that go into giving users access to new apps and services. Once you have added a solution to the service catalog, the self-service portal can be used to set how many users can subscribe to a solution at a given time, control access based on job roles and provision new virtual machine instances of the app for you. With this functionality in place, you can choose how to handle approvals by either having the system tell you that a user wants to subscribe to an app and wait for you to sign off on it or by periodically reporting on app subscriptions and letting you adjust anything retroactively as necessary.

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3. Let Users Solve Their Own Issues
Customers who want more control over their technology are often willing to solve their own issues rather than filing a support ticket. Using a self-service portal to give users access to knowledge centers and basic incident management functions can let your customers do everything from resetting passwords to handling common glitches without getting the support team involved. The result is a situation in which the day-to-day burden on your support teams decreases and your workers can resolve incidents quickly.

Consumerization and the resulting shadow IT movement come together to create a variety of operational challenges, but self-service portals and service catalogs come together to help IT teams maintain control.