Creating a service catalog benefits organizations by improving communications between IT and end users, streamlining IT service delivery, and better integrating IT into overall business goals. But it’s not something you can sit down and create in a day, unless you enjoy repeated revisions.
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As with any worthy project, creating a great service catalog requires planning and methodical execution. Here are 5 steps for creating a service catalog that serves end users, IT, and the overall organization well.
Step 1: Assemble Your Team and Solicit Support for the Catalog
Organizational buy-in is critical for your service catalog to be a success. The number of people who actually write the service catalog will depend on the size of your organization and the scope of IT services provided. But the service catalog team should include someone from management, and at least a couple of representative end users. The team also needs an effective leader. Keep in mind that end users often perceive things differently than IT does, and they may have different names for services than the IT department does. They can help you make the service catalog clear and usable for non-IT end users.
Step 2: Define High-Level, Overarching Goals
You have your team in place and you have management support for creation of the service catalog. The next step is to gather the team to define high-level goals. Leadership is critical at this stage to maintain the scope of the catalog and prevent unnecessary haggling over trivial issues. Remember: you’re creating an infrastructure that supports your service catalog, so you’ll want to list the IT services currently provided, as well as services that are anticipated within the next few months.
Step 3: Define Individual IT Services
Once you have the framework for your IT service catalog, it’s time to organize and define IT services. How you organize or classify services depends on the size of your organization, end-user needs, and plain logic. One company may classify IT services in terms of hardware, software, and connectivity, while another may classify IT services by end-user department. Define services in business terms rather than technical terms, and keep service descriptions brief.
Step 4: Review Catalog and Establish Metrics
You’ve organized your services in a way that’s usable and intuitive, and you’ve written descriptions for each available service. Now it’s time to review the catalog to ensure it’s clear and easy to understand. Be sure at least one end user is involved in reviewing the catalog. If you involve too many people in the review process, you end up with the classic “too many cooks spoil the broth” situation. At this stage, establish a few important metrics to measure before and after publication of the catalog. You may consider, for example, measuring ticket resolution times before and after catalog publication.
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Step 5: Publish the Service Catalog
The publication of the service catalog should be announced in advance so that people are expecting it. You can encourage end-user buy-in with some sort of event tied to service catalog publication. For example, you could create a tutorial on your company’s intranet and put the names of those who complete the tutorial during the first week into a drawing for a gift card. If you offer printed versions of the service catalog, you could bring in cupcakes and hand them out along with the copies. It’s important that you communicate to end users how the service catalog will benefit them with easier access to IT services and faster turnaround times.
Once you’ve published your service catalog, you should periodically review it and add or retire specific services as needs change. Quarterly is a good timetable for these reviews. You should also schedule a more comprehensive review annually to ensure that the catalog structure is still working well.
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