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The Complete Guide to Building Your IT Service Catalogue

• 19 Jun 2023

Service catalogues are a critical component of IT Service Management (ITSM) as they allow organisations to provide a structured and streamlined way for users to request services and items they need to perform their job.

Graphic showing delivery boxes

A service catalogue is essentially a list of all the services and items that are available to users within an organisation, along with the associated prices and service level agreements (SLAs).

By building a service catalogue, you are able to deliver services with the same high level of quality and consistency each and every time.

This guide will explain what an IT service catalogue is, provide an overview of its many benefits, and offer some best practice tips on how to build and maintain an IT service catalogue.

What is an IT Service Catalogue?

An IT service catalogue is a comprehensive list of all the IT services that an organisation offers to its customers or users.

A well-structured service catalogue acts as a single source of information - so customers know exactly what services are available, how much it costs, and what SLAs are associated with those services.

The service catalogue is divided into two primary sections:

  • Business Service Catalogue - focuses on the services that directly support the business functions.
  • Technical Service Catalogue - provides details about the underlying technical components and services required to support the business services.

A service catalogue is the product of combinations of configuration items in the IT infrastructure.

Business Service Catalogue

The business view of a service catalogue provides a clear and concise overview of the IT services that directly support the business functions of an organisation. In practice, the business-facing service catalogue usually takes the form of an online self-service portal, but can also be much simpler, like a spreadsheet. This is a ‘shop front’ where customers of the service desk can browse and request services and products in an easy to understand format.

Here are some essential elements that should be included in a business view of a service catalogue:

Business Service Name: A clear and concise name for the business service.

Business Service Description: A detailed description of the business service, including how it supports the business functions and how it benefits the user.

Business Service Owner: The individual or team responsible for managing the business service.

Service Level Agreement (SLA): The SLA specifies the expected service levels, response times, and performance metrics for the business service.

Availability: The availability of the business service, including any planned maintenance windows or potential downtime.

Pricing: The cost of the business service, including any fees, charges, or licensing costs.

Business Service Dependencies: Any dependencies that the business service has on other services or systems within the organisation.

Request Process: The process for requesting the business service, including any forms or documentation required.

Access Information: The information required to access the business service, including login credentials or other access requirements.

Support Information: The contact information for IT support, including phone numbers, email addresses, or other means of contact.

Technical Service Catalogue

The technical view of a service catalogue is aimed at IT staff members and documents the underlying processes required to deliver the service.

A detailed technical service catalogue should include the following information:

Service Name: The name of the service that is being provided.

Service Description: A brief description of the service that includes its purpose and objectives.

Service Owner: The person or department that owns the service.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs): The agreed-upon performance metrics that define the level of service provided.

Service Availability: The hours and days that the service is available.

Technical Support: The technical support available for the service, contact information, and escalation procedures.

Service Support Hours: The hours and days that support for the service is available.

Service Dependencies: Other services or systems that the service depends on.

Service Requirements: The requirements for accessing and using the service.

Service Costs: The cost of the service, including any associated fees or charges.

Service Contacts: The contact information for support personnel, including email addresses, phone numbers, and office locations.

Service Documentation: Links to any relevant documentation or manuals for the service.

Service Status: The current status of the service, including any scheduled maintenance or outages.

Service History: A record of previous incidents or outages for the service.

Service Improvement Plan: A plan to improve the service based on customer feedback and analysis of performance metrics.

Service Request Process: The process for requesting the service, including any forms or approvals required.

Service Delivery Process: The process for delivering the service, including any prerequisites, setup, and configuration.

Service Monitoring: A description of how the service is monitored, including any key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitoring tools used.

Service Reporting: The reporting provided for the service, including any standard reports and custom reports available.

Service Security and Compliance: The security and compliance requirements for the service, including any relevant regulations or standards that must be met.

Technical Details: The technical details of the service, including the hardware, software, and network components that are used to deliver the service.

Service Catalogue vs Service Portfolio: What’s the difference?

Although they may sound similar, the service catalogue and the service portfolio are not the same.

The service portfolio provides details of the complete lifecycle of all services and products offered by an organisation. This includes services currently available, planned services, as well as retired products.

The service catalogue, on the other hand, only contains services that are currently on offer to customers, and can therefore be seen as a subset of the service portfolio.

In ITIL v3/2011 the service portfolio is covered under ITIL Service Design and consists of three parts:

  • Service pipeline - service that are proposed or still under development
  • Service catalogue - currently active services
  • Retired services catalogue - services that have been, or are in the process of being, retired

ITIL 4 categorises Service Portfolio Management as a general management practice, and renames the practice to "Portfolio Management".

Why do you need an IT Service Catalogue?

Implementing and maintaining an accurate, easily accessible IT service catalogue has many benefits, including:

Consistent Service Quality

The service catalogue outlines the service level agreements (SLAs) for each service, which helps to ensure consistent service quality. This consistency builds trust and confidence in the organisation's ability to deliver reliable and high-quality services.

Governance and Compliance

A service catalogue aids governance and compliance by providing a central repository of information about the services offered by a service provider, enabling organisations to manage services effectively and ensure compliance with regulations, standards, and policies.

It helps identify and manage risks associated with service delivery, track service performance, and align IT services with business objectives.

Improved Transparency

A service catalogue provides customers with a comprehensive view of the services available, including service descriptions, pricing, and availability.

This level of transparency builds trust and fosters open communication between the organisation and its customers.

Clear Service Descriptions

The service catalogue offers a clear and concise description of each service, explaining what it is, how it works, and what the customer can expect in terms of service levels and response times.

This helps customers to understand the services offered and set their expectations accordingly.

Better Service Selection

The service catalogue enables customers to make informed decisions about which services to use and which ones best meet their needs.

This empowers customers to take ownership of their service requests and helps to avoid misunderstandings or miscommunications.

Decision Making

A service catalogue provides a valuable tool for decision-making. It helps service providers to assess the demand for their services, prioritise their resources, and develop new services that meet the needs of their customers.

Service Alignment

A service catalogue can help to ensure that IT services are aligned with business goals and objectives. This can help to ensure that IT services are delivering value to the organisation.

Service Optimisation

A service catalogue can help to identify opportunities for service improvement or optimisation, by providing visibility into the performance and usage of IT services.

Supports Strategic Planning

A service catalogue provides a comprehensive view of the services being offered, and can be used to inform strategic planning and decision-making.

Financial Management

A further benefit of maintaining a service catalogue is the ability for the service catalogue to aid cost reduction by providing a clear understanding of the cost associated with each service offered by a service provider.

Here are some ways a service catalogue can help reduce costs:

  • Cost Transparency: A service catalogue provides transparency into the cost of services, enabling customers to make informed decisions about which services to use and how to allocate resources effectively. It also helps service providers to identify the costs associated with each service and optimise resources accordingly.
  • Service Rationalisation: A service catalogue helps to identify redundant or underutilised services, enabling service providers to rationalise their service offerings and eliminate unnecessary costs.
  • Efficient Resource Allocation: A service catalogue helps to ensure that resources are allocated efficiently to the most critical services, enabling service providers to reduce costs while still delivering high-quality services.
  • Service Level Management: A service catalogue helps to ensure that services are delivered within the defined service level agreements, enabling service providers to avoid costly penalties associated with service level breaches.
  • Demand Management: A service catalogue aids demand management by providing a clear understanding of the quantities and costs of available services offered by a service provider (both internal and external). This enables customers to make informed decisions about which services to use, the service costs and how often to request them in order not to exceed departmental allocation.

How do you build an IT Service Catalogue?

Graphic showing a red pencil

Here are some steps to consider when building your IT service catalogue:

Step 1: Understand what your users need

Your service catalogue will ultimately reflect the needs of your specific end-user. You will want to match the services you supply with the real-world demand.

A good service catalogue will meet the needs of the end user without getting too complicated. It is critical to find a balance between publishing a comprehensive catalogue and publishing one that will get used.

Step 2: Define the scope and identify services

Define your service offerings, including descriptions and SLAs. What is it that you do in plain language? What do your users call it? If you can, limit the list to no more than 5 core things.

Take inventory of all the services offered and then group them according to the logical categories that your users will understand.

Step 3: Design the Catalogue

Once you have decided on categories, document each workflow for each kind of request. Visio works well for this.

Then, you can begin to build the back-end that will support the front-end. Think about the language you will use, pricing, approvers, and even the icons you will want to use.

Consider the minimum information you need to gather from the customer for each kind of request and build this into the submittal forms.

Step 4: User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Define the UAT scope, identify participants, and develop a detailed test plan. The UAT involves having participants interact with the service catalogue, collecting and analysing feedback, addressing issues, and repeating the UAT if necessary.

Once the UAT is completed and all issues are addressed, the service catalogue can be deployed into production.

Step 5 - Service Catalogue Deployment

Some steps to consider during the deployment phase are:

  • Establish access controls: Establish access controls to ensure that only authorised users can access the service catalogue.
  • Define search and navigation features: Define search and navigation features that allow users to easily find the services they need and navigate the service catalogue.
  • Train users: Train users on how to use the service catalogue effectively and how to submit service requests.
  • Promote the service catalogue: Promote the service catalogue to encourage users to use it.

Step 6: Continual Improvement

Graphic showing the Alemba X logomark

Continuous improvement is essential for a service catalogue to remain relevant and useful to users.

Collect feedback from users on their experience with the service catalogue, including usability, relevance, and accessibility. Analyse the feedback to identify any issues, gaps, or areas for improvement in the service catalogue.

Prioritise improvements based on the feedback analysis and the impact they will have on users and the organization.

Develop a plan for implementing the improvements, including timelines, resources required, and potential risks. Implement the improvements according to the plan, making sure to test and validate the changes before deploying them.

Remember to communicate the changes to users, including any changes to access, search features, or service descriptions.

Finally, monitor usage of the service catalogue after the improvements are implemented and collect feedback to ensure that the improvements have had the desired effect.

Building a service catalogue? Alemba Service Manager can help.

The Alemba Service Manager ITSM Tool offers a robust solution for your organisation to document its technical service catalogue and the configuration items that constitute those services.

ASM supports the linking of your technical services to the published business services they support, presented in an attractive and easy to use service catalogue that combines text and graphics in a consumerised format.

Image showing the Alemba Service Manager business service catalogue
The Alemba Service Manager business service catalogue

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