The mysterious service catalog. It’s built into IT service management solutions, but is one of the features that regularly goes under utilized. Is it because of it’s complexity? The lack of understanding around it? Or, is it simply that users just don’t truly understand all of the perks that come from incorporating it into their organization? The truth is it’s probably a mix of it all, but the fact is it’s really not that complex, understanding the amazing amount of use cases is mind-blowing, and the perks that come with it for the IT team can change processes for the better.
To dispel some of the myths, or more accurately, to answer some of the burning questions surrounding a service catalog, check out these five frequently asked questions (and the answers that will make you want to build out a workflow immediately).
What is the Service Catalog? And, why would I use it?
This is the first question everyone asks (okay, first two questions, if you want to get technical). Picture this. You go into a restaurant and they don’t give you a menu. You look around, trying to figure out what type of food they have. You see someone near you eating a sandwich, so you assume they have sandwiches, you’re just not sure what kind. You ask for a turkey sandwich from the waitress to which she replies that they only have ham. This back and forth with the waitress continues as you select the type of bread you want and what you want on this sandwich. Moral of the story? This all could have been avoided if they had just given you a menu. Setting up a service catalog is just like having a menu. Rather than having your users asking for things you don’t offer, and needing to have the back and forth, give them a menu. A service catalog gives your users a list of the services that you offer. Your users can then select from these options, all while allowing you to collect the data you need from them without having to go back to ask additional questions.
I want to have some secret service catalog items. Can I hide service catalog items from certain users?
Simply put, yes. Let’s continue with our menu analogy — you’re in a different restaurant and they actually have a menu, however you’re gluten intolerant and need to find something on the menu that you can eat. Wouldn’t it be easier to just see a gluten-free menu instead of having to sift through everything else? Using custom roles and permissions, you can do just this in your service catalog. You can hide service catalog items by category, subcategory, site, and/or department, allowing you to create a custom menu for a subset of your user-base.
I don’t have any detailed processes, do I have to create approvals and tasks?
Nope. Sorry, I know you’re expecting a menu analogy here, but sometimes things are simple and all you really need is to gather some information. Simply create a service catalog item that collects data using the variable fields. No process tasks required.
My processes are so detailed that I have certain tasks and approvals that only need to be completed if they answer a question a certain way, is this even possible?
Ok, you have ordered your food. Yes, we’re back to the menu/restaurant analogy. You ordered a sandwich. Normally, the cook would have a certain process that they would go through. However, you informed the waitress that you are gluten intolerant and your sandwich has to be gluten-free. Because of this, the cook now has a different process that he is going to go through. The same idea holds true with your service catalog. You can create approvals, tasks, or groups of approvals/tasks that are conditional. With this in mind, you can create an entire process based solely on the answer to one of your variables. Each task in this process can also be based on the answer to a different variable. Make those processes as detailed as you want them to be. We can handle it. The cook might think differently.
Why can’t I edit the variables that are submitted by my users?
This question is asked so many times and I will admit, I wasn’t sure why you couldn’t do this at first either. You’re tired of the restaurant by now, but stick with me for one more example. Let’s say you placed your order with the waitress and the cook has already started his process. He has your gluten-free bread, and he has started to construct your sandwich. What would happen if another waitress went and modified your order? She doesn’t know you are gluten intolerant, now the cook gets notified to scrap everything he’s done and start over. He can’t just wipe the mayonnaise off of the gluten-free bread — he has to start from scratch. And, what happens when you get a sandwich without gluten-free bread? You would be asking your waitress to get you a new sandwich. This is why variables cannot be edited. Your end users are requesting something specific and you have a process in place that could be dependent on certain variables. If we modify the variables in the middle of the process, we might as well ignore everything that we’ve done and start over.
For more information on the Samanage Service Catalog, check out our recent webinar.
About Jason Yeary
Jason works with customers to maximize their service management potential. He is ITIL® 4 certified and has years of experience in technical support and ITIL best practices.
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