Wikipedia defines the IT service catalog as “a list of services that an organization provides, often to its employees or customers”. The IT service catalog describes each currently available service in great detail, as well as how it will be fulfilled, expected time frames for delivery, who is eligible to receive it, and what it costs (if applicable).
While, on the surface, this may seem like little more than formal documentation, an IT service catalog actually provides tremendous value for those organizations that create and maintain them. By clearly defining, and publishing their service offerings, IT service catalogs can:
Maximize Business Benefits
An IT service catalog aims to describe not only each service and its attributes, but its objectives. This intelligence can help to ensure that the IT services offered are closely aligned with critical business strategies, and will substantially contribute to the achievement of key corporate goals.
Optimize Service Delivery
Service catalogs provide insight that helps organizations to better allocate their IT resources – both human and technical – to enable services to be provisioned in a rapid and effective fashion. Additionally, by calling for more structure to service-related workflows, they help accelerate responsiveness to the end user base.
Reduce Support Costs
Greater insight into how much services cost, as well as the returns they deliver, can help companies minimize expenses by ensuring that funds are properly allocated. Additionally, it allows for more informed decision-making regarding the retirement of low-value services, so staff can focus their efforts on those services with a direct impact on the business.
Build Rapport with the End User Community
A recent article on Techrepublic.com claims that one of the biggest breakdowns in communication between IT and end users is that “end users don’t know what to expect from IT, so they set their own expectations”. IT service catalogs describe services in clear, concise business terminology. So, whether end users are internal or external, employees or customers, an IT service catalog will help them to better understand what services are available to them, and how they will be executed.
Boost IT Productivity
By helping IT teams eliminate inefficiencies and redundancies in the core support services offered, IT service catalogs can dramatically improve productivity. Additionally, by outlining how the service will be performed, and in what time frame, an IT service catalog can help to facilitate economies of scale and eliminate both errors and waste.