Who remembers the old Sears or Toys R Us catalogs? You might recall searching the catalog to find what you need so that you can order it, or maybe you just enjoyed perusing. Either way, the catalog told you exactly what to expect both by mail and in the store. The IT service catalog is not unlike these catalogs of yesteryear. Having an IT service catalog tells customers what to expect from your IT service desk, which is especially helpful in a remote work landscape. But, before you begin crafting your IT service catalog, there are some important considerations and examples to review.
What is an IT/ITIL Service Catalog?
To start, let’s take a look at how the Axelos dictionary defines the IT and ITIL service catalog:
“A database or structured document with information about all live IT services, including those available for deployment. The service catalogue is part of the service portfolio and contains information about two types of IT service: customer-facing services that are visible to the business; and supporting services required by the service provider to deliver customer-facing services.”
The service catalog is one of the components in the Service Portfolio that is communicated publicly to employees. It lists all configuration items (CIs) with Service type that are operational and released.
To put it simply: The IT service catalog should be the go-to document to find IT services, hardware, software, and support. It is the vehicle for defining, prioritizing, and marketing IT services to individuals.
Benefits of an IT Service Catalog
Often the most important question to answer when considering changing the way you do things is “What’s in it for me? What’s the benefit?”
In IT (as in life) sometimes perception can make or break you. The perception of IT until recent years is that it is a necessary evil, or a cost center vs. a value center. IT and its connection to the greater business goals has been shrouded in mystery until the creation of an IT service catalog. After all, how many of us have had a problem with PowerPoint, needed support with a tablet, or needed help accessing ERP or other software and “Does IT help with this?” before trying to embark on our own search for answers?
An IT services catalog gives visibility into the services that the IT department delivers, which can change the perception of IT and its impact on the company.
Other benefits of utilizing an IT service catalog include:
- Clarity and simplicity for the customer or user: Giving the users a structured place to find information about IT services and equipment lessens the confusion when they need something replaced or have a question. The IT service catalog clearly communicates to all stakeholders the value of IT to the business, what it delivers, and how well it performs against the expectations that have been set.
- Improved control: As many organizations strive to deliver a richer IT experience to end-users and customers, control is still paramount. IT needs to design and fulfill an ever-evolving range of services from traditional IT to new IT and the service catalog is the portal through which this transformation must be delivered.
- Reduced costs: Especially when tied to IT asset management software, an IT service catalog can reduce costs by saving time and keeping track of what software and hardware is needed, preventing long wait times for necessary assets.
- Ease in coordinating business goals: When you have a catalog of the services offered, there is greater visibility for the entire organization. This results in easier coordination of business goals, as each team knows how the IT department is contributing to the greater goals.
- Better customer experience: Research shows that creating a great experience for employees (e.g. customers of the IT service desk) directly translates to better external customer satisfaction. Creating the service catalog can have a ripple effect, bringing positive impacts to customers who don’t have to search to find out who can help them solve a specific problem.
What Should Be Included in an IT Service Catalog?
We’ve talked about the very basics of what an IT service catalog is and how it can benefit your business, but the real question lies in the “what”.
What should be included can be broken down into the following categories: IT services, IT equipment, IT software, and internal/external services.
Let’s dive into each of these categories:
- IT services: This includes everything from incident, request, and change management all the way to providing support for cloud-based applications, mobile, telephone, audio, and video conferencing, email, Wi-Fi support, online help, etc.
- IT equipment (IT Product Catalog): All equipment provided by IT, including routers, desktops and laptops, screens, keyboards, etc. should be included. Whereas in the IT services catalog you will list the services and support you provide for these devices, here you will have an overview of the actual products that can be requested. (if you will be providing service and support for these devices).
- IT software: All software that will be available from the IT department, for example Microsoft Office, mainframe systems, VoIP software, and even ITSM software should be included.
- Internal/external services: This is similar to the IT services listed, but if your IT department will be contracting services or support out, or if users will need to contact an external source of support, include that information in the catalog. Very often, these services are not included in the service catalog. While, from an end-user perspective, you could argue they don’t need to know if certain things are dealt with internally or externally (they just want their problem to be solved or their request to be fulfilled), you need to have an all-encompassing overview to avoid users going somewhere else (shadow IT) because they assume you do not provide specific services.
When considering these categories, you may need to include sub-categories including:
- CMDB relationships
- Supporting services and teams
- Service agreements (SLAs, OLAs, and UCs)
How to Build an IT Service Catalog and Best Practices
Now that you’ve identified the services, equipment, and software to include in your IT service catalog, you can begin to build the service catalog.
You may want to consider using ITIL Service Catalog Management, defined by AXELOS as: “The process responsible for providing and maintaining the service catalogue and for ensuring that it is available to those who are authorized to access it.”
You’ll need to work with stakeholders including members of the IT department, key players in the business, and others who will have relevant knowledge and experience with the provision of IT services. With this group, you will work on the following aspects:
Step 1: Identify the Services that Will be Offered and the Outcomes that will be Delivered
Although we already discussed what goes into the IT services catalog, it’s important to note that you must identify the services specifically that the IT department will offer. This will cut down on confusion if someone contacts the service desk looking for assistance only to be told that the service is not offered, while telling the customers the outcomes that they can expect from the IT department.
For example, identify if your IT service desk will offer technical support for devices used for work but not in the catalog, or if they will provide assistance setting up VPNs or other remote work setup help.
This is a crucial step in creating a positive and memorable customer experience because it eliminates confusion for both the agent and the customer.
Step 2: Identify who the Catalog will Serve
The next step is to identify who the catalog will serve and define the lines of business that use each service, hardware, or software. By defining the customer journey and who will use the catalog for what reasons, you will be able to better address their needs.
This is especially helpful for remote workers, who may have a more difficult time understanding or knowing which IT services are available to them. Additionally, this step helps create more clear distinctions in IT services for all members of management who may be unclear on the expectations of IT.
Step 3: Use Self-Service Apps for Users to Access the IT Service Catalog
When designing your IT service catalog, the user interface is central to its success. Elements such as shopping carts will drive user-acceptance and a simple design environment will enable new IT process realization that goes beyond ITIL, to fulfill a truly consumerized service culture.
Part of this is realized through an IT self-service portal or app that functions similarly to the knowledge management database. When accessible anywhere, customers are more empowered to use the catalog to find what they need.
IT Service Catalog Template Example
To see an example of an IT service catalog and how to build it, check out our video from EV Connect 2020 here:
Pink Elephant has also compiled several IT service catalog examples here. You can also see more examples of an EasyVista IT service catalog and learn how to build your catalog here.
IT Service Catalog in the Greater Strategy
Creating your IT service catalog is just one important piece of the service delivery and service management puzzle. Careful marketing and coordination will increase adoption, but when used with a self-service portal that empowers employees you’ll see even greater benefits.