• May 14, 2016

5 Simple Steps to an IT Service Broker Model

The Basic Steps to get You on Your Way – Increase Business Agility, Consistency and Cost-Effectiveness

If your business is considering an IT service broker model as part of your transformation efforts, you know that the sooner you get started, the sooner you will reap the benefits—including business agility, consistency, and cost-effectiveness. However, without on-staff expertise in the new model, many businesses struggle to get started. How do you identify a solution that is well-suited to help your business transform and optimize its processes and technology for procuring, managing, and deploying IT services?

As a service broker, IT’s role is to manage across a broad range of technology used in the business, selecting and managing internal and external resources according to business parameters. This requires the right service broker solution—one that enables constituents to select and deploy approved technology without requiring one-on-one involvement from IT technicians. The right solution consists of a robust technology platform that provides a service catalogue for users, visibility into service costs and performance, and automated business processes to enforce compliance with business rules (e.g., firewall application, authorization for expenditures).

Five Steps to Becoming a Service Broker

As you begin your initiative, start by establishing your needs; for example, the services to be covered, rules to be established, and users to be served. Then, research the right solution and partner to meet your needs.

Here are the basic steps to get you on your way to becoming a service broker, along with tips to ensure an optimal solution:

1.  Establish the inventory.

What services will be included in your service catalog? For infrastructure, you probably will need a range of physical and virtual servers, as well as public and private cloud options (Infrastructure as a Service) for deploying workloads. You may also want to include some DevOps solutions, Platform as a Service options, and perhaps database and other services.

  • Tip: Meet with stakeholders to determine which services they would like to see in the service catalogue. And consider a Portfolio Management solution to consistently capture business demand.
  • Tip: Start small, with just a few servers and one cloud in your catalogue. Over time, you can expand your catalogue to include other vendors and services.

2. Establish key business rules and priorities.

Who has authority to launch an application or add capacity? How will you deal with cost overruns? Automated business rules enable you to assure consistency and compliance, protect data, enforce hierarchies for financial authority, and even support appropriate application performance levels. Work with the governance team and line-of-business managers to establish business rules and permissions that will be administered via the service broker solution.

  • Tip: Onerous business rules (for example, multiple approval levels) can offset the efficiencies of the service broker model, and send users to unapproved “shadow” solutions. Make sure your business rules are as transparent and simple as possible, while still protecting the business.
  • Tip: Not every business rule needs to be codified at the start. As you roll out your platform, it is wise to do some testing and monitoring, tweaking as you gain more insight into how the solution is being used and where vulnerabilities exist.

3. Understand how stakeholders will use the service broker model.

In a fully operational service broker model, the system will be used by both technical and non-technical users, each of whom will interact with the model in different ways. Some business users will select applications (as they would from an app marketplace). DevOps teams will test and deploy code, perhaps in a continuous integration process. Data analysts will integrate multiple databases. Financial analysts will monitor costs. And so on.

  • Tip: User interfaces in your technology platform must be intuitive and simple, or users will perceive the model as more “red tape.”
  • Tip: As you roll out the model, schedule customized training for each group of stakeholders, focused on the parts of the system they will be using.

4. Select a flexible, feature-rich technology platform.

By implementing the service broker model, you are looking to provide your business with flexibility in running workloads, services, and applications. You should expect the same flexibility in the service broker platform itself.

Ensure that the platform integrates the environments and functionality you need today, and may need in the future. Top on the list should be a user-friendly portal and service catalogue. In addition, ensure you have the tools and functionality to manage your IT environment, including IT portfolio and demand management; cloud service automation; IT service management; financial management; and monitoring and reporting.

  • Tip: Look for a platform that offers flexible deployment models; this will enable you to decide which option best meets your needs today, and to make a different decision if your needs change tomorrow. For example, you may choose to deploy the platform as licensed software in your own data center; but in the future, you may want to migrate the platform to a hosted cloud service. Or, you may choose to manage the platform in-house today, but in the future you may choose a fully-managed service delivered by an expert provider. When you select a platform that supports the various deployment models, you have the flexibility to make changes while still using the same platform.

5. Turn to an expert partner for help developing and implementing your broker services roadmap.

The service broker model is all about leveraging expertise from multiple sources. So, why would you expect to revert to a “do-it-yourself” approach to implementing the model?

  • Tip: Look for a partner that can:
    • Set you on the right path with Professional Advisory Services, such as helping you define the policies, processes, and governance team for your broker model.
    • Provide training services, education tools, and assessment toolkits—including Management of Organizational Change services—to help you build the right organizational structure and processes to assure success.
    • Offer ongoing management of the service broker environment, including results-based application management services.

The Last Word

Your business is depending on IT leadership to deliver technology services quickly, securely, consistently, and cost-effectively. And the sooner you transition to a service broker model, the sooner your business will benefit. Get started on your journey today.

“Download the Executive Brief. Is Your Business Ready to Adopt an IT Service Broker Model? Five Simple Steps Will Get You There

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