Microsoft Self Service Purchasing Announcement

Article Updated 1st November 2019: Initially when announced, Microsoft stated this as standard practise within their portal with no way to restrict it, much to the dismay of purchasing, IT administrators and SAM teams everywhere. However, after backlash from the IT community, companies have the ability to turn this feature off. The decision within organizations now is whether to allow users the power to procure their own licenses with the negative connotations towards ISO19770 best practise compared against the productivity positives.

Perhaps the biggest thorn in the side of IT administrators, procurement and SAM is that they will have to turn this feature off rather than allowing it. Microsoft have implied within their recent amended announcement that there is the ability to turn off this functionality via PowerShell so this is not simply a kill switch nicely presented in the portal.

Microsoft has just announced self-service purchase capabilities within Office 365. Users of Power Platform services such as PowerApps, PowerBI, and Flow will be able to access their own specific Microsoft 365 admin center with these products available to purchase.

On 21 October, Microsoft sent a note through their mobile app for Office 365 administrators confirming the changes, which are due 19 November. The aim of this change is to “empower” users of Microsoft Power Platform tools in their roles without having to trouble central IT admin. It should remove any delays between recognizing the requirement to use these powerful Microsoft products and being assigned the relevant licenses. A user, with a company (or any) credit card will be able to login to a reduced scope Microsoft 365 Admin Portal, provision their service, and therefore improve productivity immediately. Anyone who self serves is responsible for managing their own billing arrangements and cannot bill subscription via their organization’s existing procurement arrangements.

This arrangement has a clear benefit to the end user in making tools more accessible in an agile way, so they have what they need to deliver.

Office 365 self-service purchase: Good news and bad news

There are two schools of thought on the change. Firstly, end users who need access to Power Platforms for specific projects on a short-term basis will no longer have to go through the full procurement process. This allows dynamic use of the technology with no waiting for POs to be approved, procured, and provisioned. Which certainly sounds empowering.

IT administrators, procurement and Software Asset Managers are less likely to feel so positive. Microsoft’s self-service update will take away the ISO and ITIL best practice control, procurement, and deployment processes. Instead of an empowering breakthrough, Admins and SAM Managers are presented with problems akin to Shadow IT, where software is deployed with no due testing. The assessment of a product’s compatibility through Change Management, which is usually a fundamental pillar of ITIL Service Management goes out the window.

SAM Managers who look to consolidate technology, cut down costs, and ensure compliance will instead be chasing unapproved purchases that haven’t been compared to potentially more cost-efficient options.

Procurement’s role in sourcing software, purchasing it, and then monitoring software contracts will surely mean they’d be averse to company credit cards being used by the individual user. With no control over costs, and no assessment of rival technology they will in fact have no robust procurement process at all.

Ben Simpson

Ben Simpson

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