The value of self-service business technologies for IT teams

30 October 2013

Paril Popat

Paril Popat


What does self-service financial planning really mean and how self-reliant can a business user be especially when implementing a SAP BPC solution?

Well, I have to say, technology has hit a new level in self-service. 

I was recently catching up with a client (head of IT for a finance organisation) when he remarked, “Wow, we’re in our second year budgeting using BPC, and not one support email has been raised for IT.”  At the time, I didn’t take much notice of his comment.  However, later on, it made me think about how we, as a vendor, and the client, the buyer of business solutions, define self-service.  It also makes me ponder the role and future of IT.  Could there be a financial planning tool that is truly self-service, which doesn’t require relying on IT for business-as-usual support.

What do we mean by self-service?

  • Usability

    • Intuitive systems: Apple is a great example here. My nephew at the age of one and half could pick up an iPhone and navigate through photos

  • Business process agility

    • The system follows the business process and not the other way around. Often, this is forgotten when it comes to IT projects, but it is the most crucial point.

Case in point – security set-up of users

I worked on a project where we automated the very IT centric user authorisation for tasks and data. The system used a self-service webpage to request authorisation, which followed a business workflow including an automated program to create a profile after approval. This, along with following the business process for planning, meant that users could easily and intuitively use the system without much (if any) involvement from IT.

What does this mean for the role of IT in the future?

In my opinion, IT can become more strategic by introducing technologies that require minimal daily support or maintenance. This enables IT to work closely with the business to ensure that the usability of a system and process, making technology a tool rather than an obstacle. Empowering the business user should be the goal of every IT professional.

Based on my observations of BPC solutions, I think that a move towards less IT intensive systems has arrived but the question is how far off are we today?  .

Can the notion of a true self-service system really be possible? From my conversations with clients, we’re nearly there. 


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