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ITSM Back To Basics – The Service Catalogue

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Introduction

So here’s the thing. I’ve worked in IT forever and in ITSM for over 15 years and it never fails to amaze me how many failed or unused Service Catalogues there are kicking about out in industry. As a consultant I’ve seen and heard horror stories of clients paying upwards of £60,000 for a Service Catalogue they were told would solve all their problems only to be presented with a 2 page spreadsheet listing a few business services at the end of the engagement. As an Irish person who remembers the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger, I’m calling this the ITSM industry’s very own “ah here” moment.

So what is the Service Catalogue and does it deserve all the hype?  ITIL defines the Service Catalogue as a database or structured document with information about all live IT services, including those available for deployment. The Service Catalogue is part of the service portfolio and contains information about two types of IT service: customer-facing services that are visible to the business; and supporting services required by the service provider to deliver customer-facing services. In other words the Service Catalogue is a menu of all available services available to the business. It also provides the real link between the business and IT; it defines the business processes based on IT systems enabling IT to focus on ensuring those services perform well. Not too scary so far right?

Purpose:

The Service Catalogue has two main purposes:

  1. To provide and maintain a single source of consistent information on all operational services and those being prepared to be run operationally; essentially acting as a menu for the business to order IT services from. An ex collegue of mine (waves to Pink Elephant UK) used to say that the first rule of ITSM is “always make it easy for people to give you money” aka the Hubbard – Murphy law of ITSM. How can we make it easy for customers to give us lots of lovely money? By giving them a sparkly menu of course.
  2. To ensure that it is widely available to those who are authorised to access it; in order to be effective the Service Catalogue needs to be front and centre of your IT operation so that it’s used consistently. Let’s think about it logically for a moment, if it’s not being used by the business, then what value is it adding? Exactly.

Scope:

The scope of Service Catalogue Management is to provide and maintain accurate information on all services that are being transitioned or have been transitioned to the production environment ie anything that’s live or about to be very shortly.

Value to the business

  • Provides a central source of information about the IT services delivered by the service provider organisation.
  • The Service Catalogue maintained by this process contains:
    • A customer-facing view of the IT services in use
    • A description of how they are intended to be used; in clear business centric language; there’s a time and a place for technical jargon and the Service Catalogue isn’t one of them. et’s not frighten the horses here.
    • A list of the Business processes they enable (this should be fron and centre – remember – make it easy for people to give you money, right?)
    • A description of the levels and quality the customer can expect for each service, preferable one that links to the appropriate SLA, OLA or contract.

Different Views

  • The Business Service Catalogue  – This contains details of all IT Services delivered to the Business (in Business language and available to the Business if required). The Business Service Catalogue should contain the relationships with business units and business processes that are supported by each IT Service. Typically these are in the forms of Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • The Technical Service Catalogue – This expands the on the Business Service Catalogue with relationships to supporting services, shared services, components and Configuration Items necessary to support the provision of services to the Business (typically this is an internal document so it’s not available to the Business). The Technical Service Catalogue focuses internally on defining and documenting support agreements and contracts (Operational Level Agreements and contracts with external providers or third parties).

 

OK, so that’s the basics covered, come back soon for our top tips on implementing a Service Catalogue successfully.

 

Image Credit

Vawns Murphy

Irish mum of 3. ITIL V2 Manager (red badge) and ITIL V3 Expert (purple badge). SDI Managers certificate. Further qualifications in COBIT, ISO 20000, SAM, PRINCE2 and Microsoft. Author of itSMF UK collateral on Service Transition, Software Asset Management, Problem Management & the "How to do CCRM" book. Reviewer for the Service Transition ITIL 3 2011 publication. When not being pelted with brightly coloured balls in name of ITIL, I am a senior ITSM analyst for Enterprise Opinions.

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1 Response to " ITSM Back To Basics – The Service Catalogue "

  1. Wings2i says:

    Interesting piece on the why & what of Service Catalogue.