Get Started With Service Catalogue Management


The interest for Service Catalogues has been steadily growing from the year 2008. Regularly, we get more consultancy enquiries from organizations for helping to establish a new Service Catalogue or for the guidance to improve the current Service Catalogue which they have.

These days selling a product is also considered as service from purchase to delivery, so the concept of a Service Catalogue will be around us as long as we have a service level management process and SLAs. Service Catalogue is defined as single, precise, accurate and up-to-date information about all of your live services. It is fed by your service pipeline and it is a part of your service portfolio.

Unless an organization understands its services and the basis for these services, then only it can provide prompt responses to meet customer needs so that business will not be lost. Another important purpose of a Service Catalogue is to help in providing customer proposals immediately and precisely. As we accurately understand what a service is all about, how it is being delivered and at what cost.

Without a Service Catalogue categorizing all services, without understanding the technical components and configuration items, an organization may struggle to give a response to customer enquiries in a competitive marketplace. In today’s market, service is the only differentiator. If an organization doesn’t have a standard list of services to work, and the ability to support these services then the organization as a whole will suffer.

In simple terms, we need a single Service Catalogue with multiple uses, both to support technically and in business.

So How Do You Start?

Best thing is to start by defining your services in non-technical business terms so that your customers will understand. In case, if you have a doubt, take feedback from your customers and ask them what services they think you deliver better to them. In fact, engaging your customers will be the right choice, as they will have a better understanding of how services are perceived and actually delivered from a customer perspective.

In a complex service environment, we have core services, service packages, supporting services, differentiated service levels and some services that are customer-centric. It is vital to get the correct level of granularity of the Service Catalogue. If you go too deep you end up defining components of the service like hardware and applications, not enough granularities and you end up defining a service depending on a user’s perspective. So establish good service definitions which are properly segregated then start by publishing something. It may not be completely precise but will be a good starting point. 

Each service within the catalog includes:

  • Service description
  • Time frames for fulfilling the service
  • Who is authorized to view the service
  • Is there any costs 
  • How the service will be fulfilled 

Service Catalogue Management is a complicated process, as it requires communications from and to a number of departments

It is essential that you take a step by step approach in developing a Service Catalogue, which should include the following:

  • Developing both IT, business and supplier buy-in
  • Develop a vision for the use of the Service Catalogue
  • Design a road-map for the production of a Service Catalogue. 
  • Conduct a series of activities which can help to answer most of the questions required, to formulate a Service Catalogue plan.
  • Define project scope – what needs to be included and who needs to be involved
  • Define Service Catalogue requirements – scope, purpose, tools, interfaces, key users
  • How to gather the required data and what needs to be collected
  • How much information is available to us regarding service requirements, service availability, service level agreements, supplier details, criticality, technical components etc.
  • Who will use the Service Catalogue, and what will they infer from it
  • How do the supporting processes currently support the creation of a Service Catalogue, i.e., Change Management, Configuration Management, Service Level Management etc.,
  • How will the information be stored and presented, through spreadsheet, online, wiki (Do you have a template to follow)
  • Who is authorized to own the catalog
  • Who is authorized to maintain the catalog
  • Define how new services enter and leave the catalog

Here is the example of a top-level Service Catalogue view of service categories provided to internal customers:

  • Service Desk
  • Communications 
  • Desktop Services 
  • Supplier
  • Finance
  • Infrastructure
  • Security
  • Request Management 
  • Application Management 

Every organization’s service definitions are different and it needs to be tailored as per the organization’s specific requirements.

How About Using a Catalogue for Service Requests?

Today most of the IT department’s time can be saved instead of responding to phone calls, emails, walk-ins. This is the latest trend to do more with less and more quickly, and has created a huge push in recent years for ‘self-service’ functionality. Using up-to-date Service Catalogue may not be valuable for front-ending comprehensive ‘self-service’ functionality.

Designing, developing and creating a comprehensive, easy-to-use, ‘self-service’ catalog to respond to an automated solution is not beyond the scope of most organizations. We can be easily developed by using an intranet webpage. Authorizers, administrators, and users will have specific functionality to execute within the catalog, based on permissions, authority levels, and user membership. In many of the top end functionality ITSM tool sets, it has inbuilt Service Catalog functionality.

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