Is the wide adoption of self-service still a long way off?

I’ve been thinking about self-service lately. The FIM Portal is clearly designed with a strong focus on self-service and the permission-granting and flow of the approval workflows work a lot more seamlessly when people are requesting something for themselves. I wonder though – how many people are actually using it like this?

I’m working on Phase 2 of a FIM Portal-centric IAM project. Phase 1 has been in production for about a year, giving us plenty of time to observe that “on behalf of” requests, as opposed to self-service, have been by far the greatest type of user activity. A lot of the “on behalf of” policies actually had to be added after Phase 1 went live, because this wasn’t expected. The original design supposed a majority of self-service usage, with certain defined groups of people who would be largely managed for very specific reasons – and not, as it’s turned out, that pretty much everyone’s IAM identity would end up being managed by someone else.

Of course there’s been some finger pointing at the FIM Portal, which is not the user friendliest thing about, but shopping in my local supermarket has made me wonder if the reluctance for self-service doesn’t go deeper than that.

I’m thinking, of course, of the self-service checkout. Now I love the things. The queue is always shorter, I don’t have to explain what the vegetables are, and also, I quite enjoy scanning those little bar codes.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, won’t go near them. Her reason: “I don’t work for them!”

I find this response interesting. All I see is win-win – I get a faster checkout and the supermarket saves on checkout staff. All she sees is someone trying to pull one over her, erode her rights, get her to do someone else’s job… Is part of user’s general reluctance to play a bigger part in their own IT access management due to them seeing it as “not their job”?

I don’t think this is necessarily an age thing either. I see plenty of grey hairs in the self-service checkout, and plenty of younger people queuing for the humans. A bit of a search for “who uses self-service checkouts” just now brought me to a long chat thread where the original poster could see no other reason for using them than theft. As usual I, the IT geek, am left wondering why other people can’t see the advantages in the technology that I do.

I think more adoption of self-service will come in time. Once upon a time just selecting your own items from a supermarket shelf instead of having a grocer fetch them for you seemed shockingly modern. Once upon a time it was a specialist job to type a document, or connect a phone call. The ever-increasing proliferation of devices and applications in our work life; the increasing focus on security meaning a more individualised approach must be taken to granting access; the constant demand to have access now, seamlessly, but also adhering to business rules … there is no choice but to push forward with a secure form of self-service. It just might take longer to be accepted than we IT people think it will.

3 Replies to “Is the wide adoption of self-service still a long way off?”

  1. Hi Carol,
    In my company, we have enabled lots of self-services in FIM portal and its giving great ROI. But it is really hard to sell the FIM RCDC interface with the stakeholders because of no control on style sheets and the layout. FIM RCDC needs lot of improvements. Also the OOTB approval workflows combine all the self-service requests into one parent request. I’m not sure why it was designed that way. Each attributes in the form can have different approvers, and some of the attributes don’t require approval in the self-service scenarios. But FIM creates one parent requests when more than 1 attributes are updated, and if one approver approves the request and other approver approver rejects, the entire request is being rejected. This must be fixed first in my opinion.

  2. You’re absolutely right that the self-service experience needs to be simple and obvious for users to be encouraged to use it. If you haven’t joined the FIM User Group yet make sure you do – we’re talking custom UI extensions next month that help get round some of these exact problems.

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