The Self Service Portal

Hi folks, my name is Dan Boldo and I’m a Program Manager Lead in Service Manager. I’m also the PM owner of the Self-Service portal, and in this first blog post (ever :-)), I’d like to share information on that feature. As you might have noticed, the portal was removed from Beta 1 and we noted that it will reappear in Beta 2. Behind the scenes, we reviewed both the value of the original portal and how it was implemented. The conclusion was a difficult one that required going back to the drawing board. And so we spent several months rebuilding the portal from the ground up, while leveraging great feedback from our TAP customers.

When we went back to the drawing board, we focused on a few high level goals that drove all design decisions. For example, keeping things simple meant using lots of defaults and requiring minimal input from users. It meant using a “wizard like” experience for collecting data from our end users. We also had to keep the focus very sharp to ensure we’d be able to finish the work in time for Beta 2. That meant making painful cuts (e.g. removing the approval process from software provisioning) and limiting our scenarios to the areas that matter most. Having said that, I’m very comfortable and even proud of the scenarios we were able to support. When the design phase was complete we had the following scenarios:

• View global announcements

• Search and view knowledge articles

• Create service requests

• View request status

• Password reset (using ILM v3)

• Software provisioning (using ConfigMgr 2007 SP1/R2)

When you combine these scenarios into our final design, you get the following home page which makes them ‘real’ and accessible:


We decided to build the self service portal as an ASP.NET webpage, using web parts to enable the different scenarios. We think this makes it easier for folks to write additional web parts or to customize the ones we ship out of the box. We also reached out to external Microsoft Partners to see what value-add they were able to generate for folks who wanted additional functionality (think of this as add-on’s). One dream of mine has to do with having a strong sense of community among the folks who own and operate the Self -Service portal. By that I mean that I’d love to see folks write their own web parts and then share them with others, enabling a library of web parts that expand on our core scenarios and enable new ones. To me, having folks build on our portal infrastructure is a huge benefit. Using our web parts as ”working samples” will help make this process easier.

Now you have some background on what we did behind the scenes and what we intend to enable. As always, your feedback is very much appreciated and I look forward to sharing the results with you when Beta 2 ships. I hope to write additional posts in the meantime that give an overview of both the user experience and portal internals.

Until next time, cheers – Dan