A service catalog is an organized collection of all business and information technology-related services that can be performed by the enterprise in question. They act as a knowledge management tool for both employees and consultants, allowing them to route their requests about certain services to the experts who are responsible for them.
A service catalog is, first and foremost, a means of centralizing all services that are important to the stakeholders of the enterprise who implement and use it. These act as a sort of digital registry and a means for enterprises to see, find, and execute services wherever they are in the world. This means that the people in one part of the world can find and utilize the same services that the people in other parts of the world use.
Basically, a service catalog is a comprehensive list of its services that an organization offers to its employees and customers. However, this catalog can only show a portion of the company’s exhaustive service portfolio which is published and provided to the customers as a means of communicating the offered IT services.
The catalog includes
From a user’s perspective, the IT catalog is simply a manner for easing his way through the services that the company offers, finding out the one he needs, and understanding its descriptions and the method through which he can acquire it. However, for a business unit manager whose job it is to sell the company’s IT services, the catalog is an indispensable tool for publishing appointed services to users.
Service catalogs are often implemented in a way that can accommodate the registration, discovery, request, execution, and tracking of desired services for catalog users. Each service within the catalog will include traits and elements such as
The more descriptive the service details are, the easier it will be for users of the service catalog to find and invoke the services they want.
An IT service catalog is a subset of an entire enterprise service catalog. It is defined by the Information Technology Infrastructure Library Service Design to be a thorough list of IT-only services that an organization can provide or offer to its employees and customers. The catalog is just a part of the Service Portfolio that is published for customers and is used to support the sale or delivery of IT services. It generally contains information about deliverables, prices, contact points, and processes for requesting a certain service.
An IT service catalog will provide tremendous value for the organizations who create and maintain them. By clearly defining and publishing their service offerings, an IT service catalog can achieve the following:
Setting up a service catalog is pretty simple, especially with a whole company filled with capable minds. However, the challenge lies in encouraging customer engagement and setting proper expectations. To make this work, consider the following steps:
Developing a service catalog is really just an exercise in good communication. It’s a combination of knowing and understanding your company and learning about its wants and needs. Everyone should work together to be able to determine what they need to perform their jobs—business unit managers, stakeholders, everyone.
You can start by differentiating between the services that you currently offer and start analyzing what could be missing from that aspect. Once you identify them, think: are they essential to your company and do they align with your company goals, or will you survive another healthy set of years without them?
Creating any sort of restriction for accessing the service catalog and any other specific services is important. You need to establish who will have access to it and who should stay out. This is simply a manner of ensuring that your sensitive processes are only accessible to people who can be trusted with it.
Categorizing services with your end users in mind is the only way to proceed with this. Keep technical jargon to a minimum and simplify whenever you find the chance. Remember that confusion can only create dissatisfaction, and that will only defeat the purpose of your service catalog.
Needless to say, aim for a user-friendly experience, one with an easy-to-access service portal with options that are easy to navigate and contains all of the services that they will need to do their jobs.
Conduct a test on a representative portion of your user pool with a small selection of services. This way, you can find out what works and what doesn’t. It will help you identify the errors so that you can solve them right away.
Once you feel confident in the design of your service catalog and the processes that support it, you can proceed by selecting a software product that can best manage your company’s specific service needs, and automate delivery whenever possible.
By sticking to these steps with discipline, one can increase his chances of success when it comes to creating a service catalog.
It never pays to create anything customer-related if you don’t know who your audience is in the first place. There’s a reason why all these software developments have artifacts like use cases and user stories. They even have an entire discipline focused on human-computer interaction an user experience.
All of this is for a reason. If you don’t have a good grasp of the type of people who patronize your work and create a solution that will be useful to them, it’s not going to be successful. It’ll be so easy for you to get caught up in the tiny internal details of how to build the solution, but you will always fail when it comes to the actual implementation of it because you are incapable of delivering a solid user experience.
The whole world is your audience. But you must never forget to go back to your primary audience: your service consumers. When it comes to service catalog management, you should always aim for whatever will make things easier for them. If you fail in that, if you neglect to provide information that can make services easy for your primary audience, they will move on to look for a different path, and that can only spell trouble for you.
Before you add even the tiniest piece of information to your catalog, first ask yourself, “Does a consumer need to know this?” Taking the time to answer and understand this will help you filter things down to only the really important information.
Put yourself in the shoes of your external consumers. If you were them, what things would you want to see for you to have the confidence in that enterprise? A common wrong that people in this industry make is how they treat everyone as if they’re all internal consumers. They’re not. And they don’t have the patience for it. Think external first. Make using the catalog a positive experience for your primary audience.
Don’t be the guy who tries to create a single solution for all possible user problem. You are an IT company, not God. Instead, look for ways to customize. If you choose to use a single system of record, don’t sacrifice your user experience just to accomplish it.
Take data organization seriously and define what a service exactly is—all the information you want to capture about it. Start creating taxonomies for data organization, and map out all of this information to the different roles that will use the catalog so that you can customize each view.
There are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to implementing your IT service catalog. You can help it achieve a maximum level of success by avoiding the following mistakes:
There are many promising advantages to having an IT service catalog for your own enterprise. Conduct and maintain one to have the chance of earning the benefits that are waiting for those who do.