Getting Started With Service Catalogue Management

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Getting started with Service Catalogue Management

Service Catalogues have become increasingly popular since 2008 with the advent of ITIL version 3, and interest is steadily growing. Each week we get more and more consultancy enquiries from organisations wanting advice, guidance and a helping hand to establish a Service Catalogue or to improve what they currently have.

The concept of a Service Catalogue has been around for as long as we have had a service level management process and SLAs. Basically a Service Catalogue is a single, concise source of clear, accurate and up-to-date information about all of your live services. It is part of your service portfolio and is fed by your service pipeline.

In my opinion, unless an organisation understands its services, what underpins these services, understands how these services are supported and can provide swift responses to meet customer needs, whether they support or provision them, then business may well be lost.

Another vital use of a Service Catalogue is in helping to provide customer proposals promptly and accurately, as we more precisely understand what a service is, how it is delivered and at what cost.

Without a Service Catalogue categorising all services, underpinning technical components and Configuration items, an organisation’s response to customer enquiries and levels of service may flounder in a competitive and packed market place.

Service is the only differentiator in today’s market, and if an organisation doesn’t have a standard list of services to work from, and the ability to underpin and support these effectively, the organisation as a whole will suffer.

Having said that some organisations simply use a Service Catalogue to advertise their services to internal and/or external customers; some want to use it to manage increasingly complex service support and delivery infrastructure, and other organisations are using them as the front-end of a self-service portal for service requests.

In practical terms you want a single Service Catalogue, but with many possible uses, both technical and business.

So where do you start?

A good place to start is defining your services in non-technical business terms that your customers will understand. If in doubt go to your customers, and ask them what services they think you deliver to them. In fact do engage with your customers as they will probably have a better understanding than you about how services are perceived and actually delivered from a business perspective.

In complicated service environments you may have core services, supporting services, service packages, differentiated service levels and some services that are customer specific. It is important to get the level of granularity of the Service Catalogue correct. If you go too granular you end up defining components of the service like hardware and applications, not enough granularity and you end up defining a service that means something different depending on a user’s perspective. So once you have established good service definitions that are properly categorised then start the ball rolling by publishing something. It may not be entirely accurate, but will be a good starting point, and if you don’t get something on paper or in your system now, you probably never will!

Each service within the catalogue typically includes:

  • A description of the service
  • Timeframes or service level agreed targetfor fulfilling the service
  • Who is entitled to request/view theservice
  • Costs (if any)
  • How the service will be fulfilled
  • Service Catalogue Management is a complex process, as it

    requires interfaces and communications from and to a number of departments

    within an organisation so process inter-dependencies and interfaces need to be

    considered – for example:

    • §Call centres/Customer Services/Incident Management
    • §Problem Management
    • §Change Management – Managing new requirements and changes to orders
    • §Service Level Management – creating and working to “water tight” service levels that incorporate all of the relevant information
    • §Service Asset and Configuration Management – understanding your technical assets and impacts is absolutely essential
    • §Supplier Management – suppliers are a key component in upholding a standard catalogue of 3rd party services
    • §Sales functions

    It is important that you take a phased approach to developing a Service Catalogue, ensuring that you touch all the bases, which should include:

    • Developing both IT, supplier and business buy-in
    • The need to develop a vision for the use of a Service Catalogue
    • Develop a road-map for the production of a Service Catalogue. The Catalogue of Services may need to be agile, to meet all of the rapidly changing and on-going market requirements that your organisation may face now and in the future.
    • Conduct a series of exercises and activities that help to answer the major questions required to formulate a Service Catalogue plan.
    • Defining project scope – what and who needs to be included?
    • Define Service Catalogue requirements - purpose, scope, key users, interfaces, tools?
    • How do you gather the required data/what already exists and what needs to be collected?
    • How much information is available (and what is required for the use of this “catalogue”)? i.e. service availability, service/SLA requirements, criticality, supplier details, technical components etc
    • Who will be using the Service Catalogue, and what will they require from it?
    • How do the underpinning processes currently underpin the creation of a Service Catalogue, i.e. Configuration Management (which will be highly important), Change Management, Service Level Management and others.
    • Do you have a template for the catalogue? How will the information be stored and presented? i.e. spreadsheet, on-line, wiki…?
    • Who will own the catalogue?
    • Who will maintain the catalogue?
    • Define how new services get into and leave the catalogue

    Here are some factors that you also need to consider when starting your Service Catalogue journey:

    • Obtaining IT and business management support (remember to sell them the benefits)
    • Establish the right team structure/membership (from those that see the benefits)
    • Follow Project Management principles
    • Maximize available tools and resource capabilities (don’t go out and buy a standalone tool)
    • Utilize good practices and proven concepts (ITIL is a good start, but mix it with some common sense)
    • Determine what components are needed and when
    • Create an effective and secure data repository (part of your CMDB/CMS)
    • Communicate your achievements and the benefits (which should now be apparent to all)

    Here’s one example of a top level Service Catalogue view of service categories provided to internal customers:

    • Service Desk
    • Desktop Services (installation, hardware etc)
    • Communications (email, voicemail, mobile etc)
    • Infrastructure
    • Supplier (including procurement)
    • Security
    • Finance
    • Application Management (desktop, systems, etc)
    • Request Management (leavers, joiners, moves, access etc)

    Each organisation’s service definitions will be different and will need to be tailored to your organisation’s specific needs.

    How about using a catalogue as the front-end of a self-service portal for service requests?

    Today much of an IT department’s time is spent responding to phone calls, emails, walk-ins and this can be very time consuming. This and an on-going trend to do more with less and to do it more quickly, has created a big push in recent years for ‘self service’ functionality. An up-to-date Service Catalogue can be invaluable for front-ending a comprehensive ‘self service’ functionality.

    It is not beyond the scope of most organisations to design, develop and create a comprehensive, easy-to-use, ‘self-service’ catalogue, responding to the need for an automated solution. One can be easily developed using an intranet webpage.

    Users, authorisers and administrators will have specific functionality they can execute within the catalogue based on permissions, authority levels and user group membership.

    By providing a solution that is similar to an intuitive shopping experience, users can quickly and easily find services needed, request them, and then send the requests off to get approved by management and fulfilled by IT. For an integrated approach you can even interface it to your request fulfilment and procurement processes and toolsets. In fact many of the top end functionality ITSM toolsets already have inbuilt Service Catalogue functionality.

    So what now?

    I hope this insight has been of use. If you would like further information about how Purple Griffon can assist you in developing or improving a Service Catalogue or for general information about training, consultancy and ITSM software sourcing then please contact us.

    Regards Steve Lawless