by Stephanie Overby

Self-Service IT Catches On

Oct 28, 20132 mins
Cloud ComputingSaaS

Cloud-based software for the IT help desk turns out to be useful in departments outside of IT, too.

When Red Hat needed to replace an IT ticketing system that had proven inflexible and costly, CIO Lee Congdon wanted a solution consistent with his goal of making 70 percent of the company’s IT cloud-based within two years. That strategy, says Congdon, “probably puts us ahead of all our peers, but behind a lot of startups.”

The company rolled out ServiceNow’s IT incident-, problem- and change-management applications in January, and the software-as-a-service tools have proven to be flexible, efficient and easy to use. The increased agility is important at the rapidly growing open-source software company, says Congdon.

In the months since Red Hat launched its cloud-based IT service management, the system has already gained several secondary, non-IT customers from within the company.

“We had a great response, so some other internal functions have come to us saying, ‘We need that, too,'” says Congdon. Human resources, payroll, customer support, facilities management and operations are all in line to get on ServiceNow, eager to take advantage of self-service capabilities to free themselves from repetitive tasks that add little value.

At Your Service

It’s a natural solution for HR, which can direct employees to the FAQ page and self-service ticketing when they want to make a change to their benefits, for example. The reporting function enables managers to track over time who’s asking for what and how often.

Congdon says IT has taken the lead on moving the company to the cloud, but IT insists that business partners own and actively participate in projects–defining workflows and writing self-help documentation, for example.

“The goal is to become a greater business consultant,” Congdon says of IT’s evolution in recent years. “We want to be able to go to the business and say we’ve got a better solution.”

That goes a long way toward containing rogue technology purchases in the company. “We don’t want to wait for them to come to us or go off and cut a purchase order without our involvement,” Congdon says. “Typically that’s a bad outcome. They don’t know how to negotiate with technology vendors. They don’t think about things like security. They’re not set up to handle an incident at 2 a.m.”

Congdon acknowledges that it’s been a challenge to find cloud-savvy IT professionals. “We’ve had to train folks on the job. But that’s a good thing. It gives us more attractive career opportunities and the chance to do leading-edge work.”