Sometimes ITIL refers to the service catalog as a document or database of services, but that definition is limiting. A service catalog should work to serve end users who have specific needs for products, services, and information.
In other words, when one of your company’s end users needs a product, service, or information, he or she should be able to use your IT service catalog and “shop” for it in a manner similar to the way he would shop for a book on Amazon. When implemented correctly, an IT service catalog can take orders from customers easily and cut out a lot of busywork for the IT staff. The whole idea is to minimize red tape and get products and services to those who need them.
Making Your IT Service Catalog Usable and Actionable
Don’t think of a service catalog as a static list of products and services. Your IT service catalog should be user-friendly and interactive, allowing end users to choose what they want in terms of products and services, and put these items into a virtual shopping cart. The catalog should include clear, concise, informative descriptions of each product or service written in terms end users understand, and when end users finish “shopping” they should be guided to forms where they input required information to submit the request. Ideally, after submitting a service catalog order, the end user should be told when to expect delivery or resolution.
Reasonable Starting Points for Service Catalogs
When you first start implementing your service catalog, you should choose the services that will have the greatest impact on the end users. Here are some ideas for items to initially include in your service catalog:
- Password resets
- New user access
- Departing user services
- System access requests
- Folder access requests
- Equipment for new employees
- Equipment turn-in for departing employees
There is no “magic number” of products and services to include in your service catalog. Your company may only need a dozen or so, while another company may need a service catalog with 300 products and services. When starting out, you want to aim for quality rather than quantity, because you can always add products and services later on.
Take a look at service desk records to determine what the most frequent categories of services are and get ideas about which ones to include in your first implementation of the service catalog.
Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Service Catalog
Two of the most common missteps made with new service catalogs are defining terms in “IT Speak” and failing to include end users in the development of the catalog. IT professionals tend to think in technical terms, while end users tend to think in terms of business outcomes. By including a couple of carefully-chosen end users to assist with development of the service catalog, you can avoid creating a document that is confusing or not useful to the actual people who are supposed to use it. What you want to do is package and communicate the service catalog with a focus on deliverables that are relevant to your company’s end users, rather than focusing on underlying technology or how your IT workers deliver the services.
Samanage is a leader in cloud service desk software that includes powerful service catalog capabilities along with its many other service desk and IT asset management features. Creating a service catalog that gives your end users a familiar shopping cart experience can cut down on miscommunication and busywork and benefit both end users and IT service professionals with clear descriptions of products and services and more efficient delivery of them.
About Nathan Riley
Nathan Riley is a Sales Director, ITSM at SolarWinds. He has nine years experience in the industry, and has had a front row seat for the evolution of service management as a platform for the entire organization. He helps organizations ranging from SMB to Fortune 500 bring customized service to employees. Nathan proudly served the United States Armed Forces in the United States Marine Corps.
Read more articles by Nathan