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Does your Company have an IT Service Catalogue?

Recently was on a trip to visit an ITSM software company in America. During a training session, the instructor made a confession about the service catalogue: "Nobody that I know uses it". This came as a bit of a shock for me. Service Catalogues are quite popular in Australia. I am wondering now if this is merely a popular topic or concept that has so far been unrealised by most of us.

What is a Service Catalogue?

According to Wikepedia, a service catalogue is defined as an exhaustive list of services provided by the IT department for its employees or customers. ITSM Software vendors are providing companies with a means to bundle these services as a group and offer access to them in a web portal. Customers/Employees who want a service can lodge a request over the web. Behind the scenes, the ITSM System will determine what type of request it is (for example, a Request for Change) and will route and assign the work to the appropriate team.

Why it is popular

The whole setup is a dream for IT managers, who are looking for a way to standardize the product offering and monitor quality. Faced with increased pressure to deliver service at a reduced cost, these managers are looking for every bit of help they can get. The devil is in the details. Oftentimes, these services have become complex to maintain and even more difficult to standardise. And the premise of a service catalogue is to have ALL services--leaving little room for compromise.

Difficulties with adoption

But it may be that the IT managers who are struggling with this have the cart before the horse. Standardising IT services is the real challenge. Support from the top is often needed to get the compromise needed to get all services in line. In many cases, it is easier to offer a carrot to department managers by improving the level of service promised in the service level agreement (SLA).

The art of compromise

When offered better response times from IT, Managers are often willing to be flexible. The catalogue concept offers many other benefits to these managers than they realise. Usually there's less red tape involved with a request, and inter-departmental costs can be driven down.

Together with the Configuration Management Database, the Service Catalogue is one of those challenging yet rewarding projects. They reveal your stripes, and show if what level of ITIL maturity your company has.

The next time your are talking to the IT Manager at your company, ask him or her about the service catalogue, and if there are any plans to roll one out in your area. And feel free to let us know what the response is.

And let us know if you need some help getting things moving with your Service Catalogue.

Tim Lambert

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