Developing the Service Catalog

While more extravagant implementations of the Service Catalog delivered via extensive internet/intranet solutions will maintain both aspects in an integrated fashion, less mature organizations may choose to maintain these separately. Regardless of the implementation method, the key requirement is that the desired information is easily accessible by the authorized parties and communicated in a form that is appropriate for the audience.

The starting point for any Service Catalog journey is to begin identifying what actual services are being provided and who are the customers of these services. While it sounds simple enough, for an organization with a long history and large amount of customers there will often be a lack of clarity in this regard, resulting in confusion and debate about what actually constitutes a service.

From an IT perspective, many staff will typically identify IT systems such as software or applications as being the service offered to customers. In other cases, the service will be seen to be composed of multiple services (which in turn are formed by one or more IT systems). In short, looking at services from only an IT perspective will lead you down a dangerous path and most likely cause you more headaches and grief in the process.

Instead, the recommended starting point is to look at things from the customer perspective. This is normally performed by asking customers what they perceive to be the IT Services they are utilizing and how they map onto and support their business processes. Just like the design of services should be coordinated in a top-down approach, so should the associated definition for inclusion in the Service Catalog. Regardless of exactly how this occurs, each organization needs to develop a policy defining what constitutes a service and how it is defined and agreed within their own organization.

The top-down approach may lead to the creation of a service hierarchy, qualifying types of services such as:

* Business Services – that what is actually used and seen by the customer
* Supporting Services, including further definition as:
o Infrastructure Services
o Application Services
o Network Services
o Data Management Services
* Shared and Commodity Services
* Externally provided Services – those provided/managed by an 3rd party organization.

As the definition of services begins to occur, consideration should be made as to who are the actual customers of these services. Eventually through a cycle of discussions with customers a clearer picture will emerge, providing the beginnings of a Business Service Catalog.

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