The Danger of PaaS for Enterprise Service Management

BuildingImplementing a platform as a service (PaaS) gives us control. If something needs to change, we can do it. That is how many enterprise organizations justify the selection of an Enterprise Service Management application that is essentially a development platform or toolbox.

Let’s apply the same logic to an office building for a different perspective. The Facilities department is on the ground floor, HR on the second and IT, of course, is in the basement. Before moving into the new site, a contractor was hired. The room layout was designed, an elevator installed and a reception area with a coffee corner was added. An interior designer made sure that all rooms are nicely decorated and that the corporate identity is propagated throughout the building. The employees were excited to move into their new work environment.

During the first few months, each department started to tweak their floor to optimize it for their needs. Desks were rearranged, flowerpots were moved and the HR department decided to convert some rooms to flex workspaces. So far all is well in the new office.

Then one day, HR decides to install external blinds on their floor to keep the temperature in check. They do this themselves, of course, because it is so easy to customize the building. Most blinds work, but some could only be closed and never opened again. The following week the window cleaners, hired by Facilities, come in to clean the building’s windows. Unfortunately some blinds are still down, so only part of the 2nd floor windows gets cleaned. This is not really a big deal, but HR decides to ask their colleagues in the IT department for help. They are pretty clever when it comes to building customizations.

IT is excited. After some brainstorming they come up with a plan that will not only fix the blinds; they found a way to reduce costs by installing an automated system that sprays a water-detergent mix on the outside of the building so the window cleaners are no longer needed. They start the implementation right away.

What the IT team is not aware of, however, is that the Facilities department is also pretty good at customizing the building. They added a million-dollar security system, to prevent break-ins. The first test of IT’s automated window-cleaner destroys this system.

The manager of the Facilities department jumps into the elevator to complain to the IT department, only to find that the elevator doors do not open anymore in the basement. He was not aware that IT had decided to disable the elevator doors in the basement three days before. They did this to stimulate the use of the stairs in response to HR’s request to encourage employee health initiatives.

But no worries, the lease company just completed an even better office building next door and the lease contract allows the organization to upgrade. The new building looks gorgeous. With the help of an interior designer, the departments get to work on the designs to make sure that all their customizations can be transferred to their new environment.

That is what it is like when a toolbox application is used by multiple departments. It does not work when everybody is able to change things. To overcome this problem, organizations may give the responsibility for making changes to just one team. Most organizations, though, do not employ specialists who have the experience to help them avoid the unintended consequences of customizations. That is why they pay a premium for external consultants to build the changes for them.

Rather than relying on a development platform that was originally built to support the customization of an ITSM application for IT departments, more and more organizations are realizing that this foundation creates issues when other departments start to use the same development platform. 4me offers a fresh approach. Its architecture allows organizations to meet their Enterprise Service Management needs by giving each support domain (like HR, IT, Facilities, Purchasing, Legal, etc.) their own 4me account. When departments configure their account, 4me’s architecture ensures that these changes cannot negatively affect the other departments, even when they have chosen to link up their accounts so that they can work together.

Or, to stick to our analogy, 4me ensures that each department is able to make all the necessary customizations to their floor as long as this does not break things on the other floors. And 4me keeps the burglars out, keeps the windows clean, and continuously upgrades the building without temporarily closing the building or asking the tenants to move to a newer facility.