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IT Services at the FDA

By Todd Simpson, CIO, FDA

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Todd Simpson, CIO, FDA

What is service and what does it mean to be service oriented? A service is the sum of the people, processes and technologies required to enable users to achieve their desired business outcome. The Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focuses its strategic plan around enabling the business to meet those desired outcomes. As part of that strategy, in 2015 we began implementing both IT infrastructure library (ITIL) and IT service management (ITSM). Our ITSM model is structured with processes and procedures that support the design and delivery of our services to our customers.

As we mature our service delivery model, we continue to focus on our ability to deliver IT services. As part of this effort, we are focusing on the agency’s service catalog. The FDA’s user-facing service catalog is the go-to place for IT service-related information. The catalog defines and documents what OIMT can deliver to the organization. The user-facing service catalog creates benefits for both the FDA Business Centers and OIMT. For our customers, the service catalog is like a menu at a restaurant. It documents how to request access to the service, processes, service level agreement, cost, scope, and delivery timeframes and specifies how to obtain support for the services. For OIMT, the service catalog is similar to a recipe book in that it specifies IT support for the services, as well as internal items that may be different from what the customer sees. The catalog also identifies who is responsible and who is authorized to use the services.

"Our ITSM model is structured with processes and procedures that support the design and delivery of our services to our customers" 

The FDA’s service catalog is comprised of seven parent categories including infrastructure services, personal and mobile computing, enterprise IT application services, professional services, training, governance and general and administrative. Within each of these categories, there are approximately 30 services ranging from audio or video or conferencing equipment and support to network services.  While IT can help with solutions outside of the catalog, the catalog is used to indicate what IT services are mainstream and essential to achieve the mission of the agency. The catalog provides a way to list the available services in a user-friendly language, translating the “techie-speak” into something the business can understand. It improves the business perceptions and helps increase IT-business communication and collaboration to move the agency towards a service-oriented model. OIMT uses the service catalog to communicate all the services that we provide to the business. It improves IT’s visibility within the agency by creating a single source of information for all the value creating services IT has to offer. The service catalog also helps the stakeholders and customers understand the value IT brings to support each line of business and the overall organization. It allows OIMT to focus on the most frequently used services. The reduction in routine inquiries decreases workload and increases morale within the IT delivery team, and allows IT Helpdesk to concentrate on providing higher value services. Our latest revision of the service catalog is expected to help reduce shadow IT and gain control of services.

The service catalog empowers users and provides more opportunity for self-service. Instead of calling the service desk every time an issue occurs, the users can rely on the service catalog for information. This simplified process should decrease the number of service requests and provide information in a faster, more efficient manner that will increase productivity for both IT and the business.  Finally, the service catalog has provided transparency. With every service clearly defined, users can better understand the support level they should expect, help IT to accelerate the service delivery process, make fewer mistakes when selecting services, and plan better. This transparency also allows them to communicate their expectation to us both for IT accountability and to help IT align services with critical business needs and strategies.

As we continue to evolve our service model in the catalog, we are also focusing on maturing the charge back model and cost allocation process. We are specifically working on four process improvements to address challenges we have encountered on our journey: data integrity and accuracy, cost driver transparency, maturing the formal review process, and streamlining communication. We are collaborating with our customers to define the audit process that will enhance the accuracy of our data. We are asking our customers to directly contribute to the data quality and providing them mechanisms to correct source data. We are centralizing issue tracking and submission processes, similar to how we centralized our service portfolio using the catalog of services. Our goal is total transparency into all the cost driver data and superior service delivery supported by comprehensive and consistent processes.

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