So your new start-up looks like it’s going to succeed. Or maybe you’ve been brought onboard at a non-IT company because their IT needs have outgrown “Bob, Who Knows About Computers.” Either way, you may be thinking about building an IT service framework and have an idea that a service portfolio and / or service catalog are in order.
But perhaps you’re not all that clear on the concepts of “service portfolio” and “service catalog,” and wonder if you need one, the other, or both. Here’s some guidance, starting with what a service portfolio and service catalog are.
What’s a Service Portfolio?
A service portfolio is a reference that not everyone in your organization will use. However, it is a valuable product, because it maps out and records your IT services over time. A service portfolio contains information about all your organization’s IT services: past, present, and future. It’s an excellent reference when your organization bids on certain types of jobs, or when your IT services undergo major changes. It’s also great for helping you remember types of services you might have retired, and services your company looked forward to during earlier times. It may be updated either on a regular schedule, or when IT services change.
What’s a Service Catalog?
A service catalog is a reference that anyone who accesses IT services in your organization can use. It spells out the IT services that are available (or have a set deployment date) as of right now. With a service catalog, an end user can determine what she needs to do to get a laptop for her summer intern, or how to go about ordering toner cartridges or updating software. The service catalog is a “here and now” reference, and like the service portfolio it changes when IT services change. But it doesn’t keep track of retired services, or services that may or may not be in the pipeline for later.
Do You Really Need Both?
Without both a service portfolio and a service catalog, you shortchange your organization. You’d be surprised how much you forget over the course of two or three years, but your IT service portfolio can tell you exactly what services were offered when. Your service portfolio is your map of interstates and major highways that get you from point A in the past to point B in the future, while your service catalog gives you the specific street directions for getting around where you are now. Without both, you have an incomplete map of IT services.
Which Should You Work on First?
There’s not really a right answer here. If your organization offers standard IT services found in organizations similar to yours, then it may be easier to start with creation of the service catalog, and then flesh it out — looking back and looking forward — to create a service portfolio. On the other hand, if your services are unique or proprietary, you may benefit from getting the big picture taken care of first by making a service portfolio, and then zeroing in on specific services offered currently.
Don’t torment yourself with mental gymnastics over which comes first, the service portfolio or catalog. The IT Police won’t pursue you for doing it in the “wrong” order.
Your company’s end users refer to the service catalog regularly. They may not have much reason to ever consult the service portfolio. However, when it’s time to undergo a major IT initiative, or when your company gears up for an expansion or merger, the IT service portfolio can be a very valuable guidebook to ensuring that IT services change in harmony with other changes your organization undergoes.
Samanage is a leading provider of IT service management software, and includes powerful tools for creation of service catalogs. These tools are flexible and customizable enough to be used for the creation of a service portfolio as well, and ensure that it’s easy to change and update these creations when necessary.
Service portfolios and catalogs are extremely valuable to end users, management, and IT professionals, and Samanage helps you make and modify them in a clear, straightforward manner.
About Karen Small
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