A Service CatalogueA Powerful Tool

A Service CatalogueA Powerful Tool

IT Service Catalogue: Know what you want

Service Catalogues seem to be the hot topic at the moment with many organisations deciding that they want one as indeed they should. A Service Catalogue can be an incredibly useful tool that helps raise the level of understanding between business and IT to a new level.

However, there does not seem to be a great depth of understanding in the market place of precisely WHAT a service catalogue actually is and exactly HOW it can deliver the promised benefits for an organisation although all agree that there are definitely benefits to be gained.

Pink Elephant is a globally recognised leader in Service management and part of our offering is to get our experienced ITSM Consultants to assist clients who know that they want a Service Catalogue but don’t know how to approach the task.

When we are asked how to go about creating a Service Catalogue, our best advice is that answering 3 fundamental questions will dramatically help to define the final shape of your service catalogue. Failure to answer those questions upfront will certainly make the creation process harder and will probably ensure that it fails altogether.

The 3 critical questions are:

  • Why do you want a Service Catalogue
  • Who is going to use it?
  • What are they going to use it for?

To understand these questions it needs to be understood that a service catalogue offers different things to different people. The 3 main groups are:

  • Users
  • Business Customers
  • IT

Let’s tackle their probable requirements one at a time.

Users Perspective

From a users perspective the questions they want a service catalogue to address are likely to be related to what they personally can get from IT.

  • ‘What can I get?’
  • ‘How much does it cost?’
  • ‘When will I get it?
  • ‘Can I work on this service this weekend or out of hours?

As such a Service catalogue created with users as the desired target audience should be created along the lines of a menu of offerings. This perspective on the Service Catalogue should show what services IT offers, when they are available and what extras can be requested.

For example an email service might talk about its hours of service, attachment limits and offer the ability to request mail box size extensions. It also states that any mailbox upgrades have a cost per extra gigabyte of space requested and takes 3 working days to action.

Business Customers Perspective

A business customer, purchasing services on behalf of their business unit or area will have a different set of requirements. Their requirements are centred on their relationship between business and IT.

  • ‘What Services is my department using?’
  • ‘What levels of Service am I receiving?’
  • ‘What additional or modified levels of Service are available?’
  • ‘What is my IT Spend?’

A Service Catalogue created with the Business Customer as the desired target audience is more of a front end for Service Level Management than a simple menu of offerings.

The information displayed will be geared towards showing not only what services are offered but also against agreed service level targets, if those targets have been reached and how much it costs their department to receive those services.

This view of a Service Catalogue is primarily focussed on showing value on investment as well as assisting the business in its budgeting and planning activities.

An example of this perspective would be that the email service is being utilised by the business customers department, that the agreed target of 95% availability has been met for the last 4 months and that the cost for this service is allocated on a basis of £200 per user per month.

IT Department Perspective

The IT department, delivering services to the business, also has requirements that can be met by creating a Service Catalogue. Their requirements are more likely to be cantered about defining what they do, and consequently do not, do for the business.

  • ‘What Services do we offer?’
  • ‘What don’t we currently offer? Or at least what would require a formal project request to be raised for it to happen?’
  • ‘What levels are available?’
  • ‘What are our key metrics?’

A Service Catalogue created with the IT Department as the desired target is more about definition. A common issue is that the business assumes that IT simply does everything ‘automagically’ and makes additional demands of IT that were not included within agreed budgets. An IT department with a Service Catalogue can clearly state what services the business gets for its budget. It is not stating that it won’t do anything extra, simply that it might involve additional development, project time and possibly extra budget and resources.

An example of this perspective would show that email is offered by the IT department, but that spam filtering is not included in the service. The email has a gold, silver and bronze option available with associated levels of availability and mail box size.

Please note that an organisation does not have to limit itself to one ‘flavour’ of Service Catalogue. A properly created Service Catalogue can contain all of the above information and simply use filters or access rights to ensure that the correct information is displayed to those who need to view it.

As you can see a properly designed and implemented Service Catalogue is more than simply an ‘a la carte’ menu of services offered by IT. It can form the lynch pin of the relationship between IT and the business as all parties now have a place to answer some of their most common queries.

A Service Catalogue is a powerful tool, but you need to know how you plan to use it, just the same as any other tool. Remember “A fool with a tool is still a fool”.

Service Catalogue Scoping and Strategy


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Kate Hamblin

Senior ITSM Consultant +44 0118 324 0620