Clever Choice employee writes service catalogue

Five good tips for your service catalogue

Over recent years, the use of IT and technology has increased significantly in companies. This applies regardless of whether it is organisations' own IT infrastructure or cloud-based solutions that are purchased and delivered. Regardless, it is a challenge to create an overview of the services that IT provides (or does not provide, but for which IT is nevertheless held responsible). 

If the IT supporter is tasked with helping an employee fix a service that doesn't work and doesn't know how the specific service is pieced together from different components, it will result in a poor user experience and wasted time, which is inefficient. This will cause problems for the end users or customers if they find it difficult to order a service or get the right help. This will create high uncertainty about which services are offered and can be expected, if this is not clear to the person who is to receive the service. 

The good overview can help the delivery of services to be more uniform and under control. It is important to emphasize that the good overview can be created in several ways, but if it is supported digitally in a Service Management solution, then it is possible to use it in practice. Concretely, the service catalog will be used to make it visible which services are offered and thus help with more transparency and uniform delivery of services. 

What is a service catalog?

A service catalog is where you can find information, status and details on the services that are offered. The easiest way to understand a service catalog is to compare it to the menu card in a restaurant. Menu cards help the guest to form an impression of what can be chosen from, and without it the guest will not know what they can order or what they can expect. 

A menu card helps the restaurant to know which ingredients are needed in order to prepare the food for the guests. Just as a restaurant needs to know what is on offer, IT organizations and IT Service Providers need to know what services they provide to their end users and customers. 

The purpose of the service catalog is to create transparency and a reconciliation of expectations about which services an IT team offers its customers and end users. In this context, it is important to mention that a service catalog is more than just an overview of the various IT services. A service catalog usually also includes relevant information and information on the various IT services, such as the expected duration of the delivery of the service, operating costs, service availability, possible SLAs and approvals. This means that there are things included in a service catalog which are not necessarily visible to the users, but which must be included in order for the right service to be delivered.

For many, preparing a service catalog can be a voluminous process, as it may initially seem difficult to map out what a given service consists of and which parts are included. To help you on your way, in this post we have collected 5 good tips for you who want to start creating a service catalogue. 

Five good tips for your service catalogue

#1 Do you need more than a service catalogue?

It is essential as an IT department or a Service Provider that you investigate how many service catalogs you need. It is a good idea to research who is the recipient of the service catalog and what the content should be before you start preparing the service catalog itself.

Within the best practice area of ITIL, it is important to separate the service catalog into two different categorizations:

• The Business Service Catalogue/ Business Service Catalogue

The business service catalog is specialized towards giving customers and end users the full overview of which IT services are provided. This service catalog is business-oriented, as it shows which services support the various business processes.

• The Technical Service Catalogue 

The purpose of the technical service catalog is to have a structured overview of the technical IT services targeted more internally in the IT department and at the Service Provider. The recipient of the technical service catalog is IT, and here the service catalog must preferably be described in a way that is understood and used by IT employees.

The technical service catalog is closely linked to the CMDB (Configuration Management Database), because it is relevant to understand which relationships and dependencies exist between the organization's systems and IT services. At the same time, there are specific CIs (Configuration Items) where it may be necessary to define and understand which IT units are connected. It is essential that the IT employee knows how everything is connected in order to deliver and support the specific IT service and thus perform its work. 

The primary difference between the various service catalogs is the recipient. With a business service catalog, the customers and end users are the recipients. More and more organizations choose to display the business service catalog via a self-service portal to the recipients, as it is the customers and end users who have to navigate around the catalog and order the specific services. The technical service catalog has the IT employees in the organization as recipient and can be accessed internally in an ITSM system.

#2 Define what a service is

It is important that you within the organization have a common understanding of what a given service is. For many organizations it can be difficult to have a fixed definition of what a service is. If you do not have a concrete definition of what a service is in the organization, it can affect the delivery of IT services because an overall and common understanding has not been created between those who must deliver a service and those who must receive it.

#3 Involve the business/end users

Another piece of good advice in connection with the preparation of the service catalog is that it is important to involve the business when IT services are to be defined in the business service catalog. The business, the end user or the customer all have a good understanding of how they use the various IT services and how these IT services fit into the business's other processes. 

#4 Test, test, test

It can be advantageous to plan to hold a few test rounds where you gather a representative group of your customers or end users. With these test rounds, you get the opportunity to get the end users' attitudes and experiences with using the service catalogue. The business service catalog is intended for end users and customers, and therefore it is important to investigate whether this is an optimal and user-friendly solution for the recipient before it is finished. 

#5 Remember: Update the service catalog continuously

Compiling the service catalog can be a long process, and unfortunately it will never be finished. It is necessary to update the service catalog if, for example, there are major changes to the organization's systems, CIs (Configurations Items) or to the customers. Therefore, it can be advantageous to have a dedicated employee in the organization who is responsible for maintaining the service catalog in the organization.

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Peter Long