"Providing a high level of service and automating redundant processes is exponentially harder in an environment riddled with point products," he says. "This will be your biggest expense in the move to becoming a service provider."
The good news? Removing point tools with integrated systems can save your organization money, he adds. But if your organization isn't ready to make the leap, it will end up costing you, says Joseph Lee, IT operations and delivery manager for SWC Technology Partners, a provider of managed services and infrastructure solutions.
"Before you adopt a shared services model, you need to make sure your infrastructure and your IT processes are mature enough and can scale properly," he advises. "If your solutions are inadequate and you try to scale them, you'll end up with bad processes repeating over and over. What you've accomplished is basically moving the work from one unit to another with no gains."
Do: Automate your infrastructureDon't: Get stuck changing lightbulbsUnless it's a one-person operation, execs who make the big decisions (and the big bucks) aren't usually asked to also replace the lightbulbs and fix the toilet. IT departments need to stop being glorified service techs who keep the servers humming and email free from spam; instead, they must start assuming a larger role.
"IT is always going to have a mundane component: setting up email accounts, jockeying help desk tickets, and the like," says Gray. "In the service-based IT organization however, these activities should be 'outsourced' to an internal or external party that manages itself, getting these activities off of the CIO and IT's radar. You can't be a high-value service provider if these tasks are your main area of focus."
You don't necessarily have to move to the cloud to transform your IT department into a service provider, says Jeff Fisher, VP of strategy for RES Software, a provider of dynamic desktop solutions. But you will need to automate as many low-level services as possible.
"Don't assume that moving services to the cloud is going to automatically elevate your role," he says. "It's better to focus on automating the delivery of in-house services first to intimately understand their dependencies. This will help immensely when it comes to determining which services can be moved to the cloud. Automating challenging IT projects like application upgrades or operating system migrations can give users a better experience without requiring direct intervention from the IT team."