Best practices to setup the Service Catalogue

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Identify the stakeholders

  • This is probably the most important step to undertake in this process, unfortunately it is the step most often skipped by organisations. When this step is skipped,  the conclusions of the Service Catalogue aren’t achieved which means this step needs to be taken anyhow. 
  • Stakeholders are the people who utilize your services, and they want to know what is available to them. If you take the time to understand them and their perspectives, you will build a catalog that meets their needs and expectations, not one filled from an IT perspective.
  • With the Stakeholder’s assistance you appoint the Service Catalogue Owner who becomes responsible for the future building and maintenance of the catalogue. By selecting a Service Catalogue Owner with your stakeholders you will assure the right mandate for that person as well.
  • To put is simply, below is a list of members (roles) who ought to be involved in the Service Catalogue establishment:
    • IT Management Team
    • Business “customers”
    • Business relationship management
    • IT Delivery
    • Service Managers / owners
    • Service Catalog Manager

Defining the lines of Service

  • Define your lines of services: It is like assigning the services to different boxes, so at the first look an outsider can understand what they represent.
  • Based on our experience the definition of the lines of service is one of the key elements on how to identify the services themselves. The services have to be aligned with your stakeholders, which means that they need to serve the business needs. Based on that,  it is usually a good starting point to align the lines of service with the business lines of service (they should follow the same structure) or for example with the company’s business processes.

Example lines of service aligned to business processes of the company:

Example of lines of service logically structured according end-user segments and IT lines of service:

Defining the attributes of the services in catalog

  • An important part of the Service Catalogue definition is defining the attributes to be followed for each service. This is an important step before starting the actual definition and description of the Services as you need to understand which data you need to collect from different stakeholders.
  • tool comes with a standard set of key attributes:
    • Name
    • Description
    • Service Owner
    • Lifecycle status
    • Criticality
    • Contacts
  • Certainly, there is a necessity for more attributes in the service catalogue. We do suggest to be considered based on our experience the  following optional attributes:
    • Line of Service
    • Business process
    • Cost of down time
    • Business owner

Defining & Categorizing the Services

  • When the Service Catalogue structure has been determined with its services attributes, the next step is to define them.The greatest practices say that the best way of doing the definition is to gather all stakeholders into one room. This might be challenging from several perspectives:
    • Your stakeholders might be geographically distributed. If this is the case, it might be a good solution to try online workshops to gather the needed definition. In this situation, it is highly recommended to have a professional in the meeting to facilitate the discussion and lead the group to results (if the number of stakeholders is higher than approx 3)
    • Another difficulty can be that number of stakeholders is too high to manage. In such case,  a representative sample is chosen. It is recommended that the initial group is no larger than 6-8 people. In the next round table review, more people can be involved to get common approval. 
  • Once the stakeholders provide their insight, the categorization of services can be initiated. Then the basic Service Catalogue is done and you have a reason to celebrate.

Map the dependencies to components and localize underlying suppliers

  • The next step of the Service Catalogue is an important part which is practically invisible to businesses and is related to IT building blocks. We call them Service Components. Service Components can be applications, Infrastructure components such as Cloud, Hosting or Network services, End User Services and more. This layer is usually very well known to IT personnel.
  • Connecting business services with IT components will enable a faster resolution of the incidents as the incident analyze can happen faster. When the end user will report the incident of the business service, the potential incident causing components will be immediately identified. 
  • In our current environment where a number of suppliers and  a number of SaaS services are emerging we do encourage that the service catalog should include a relation to the suppliers as well. By connecting Service Components with suppliers an understanding will be built where providers are sourcing components and their relation to business services as well.

Publishing the Service Catalogue

  • The Service Catalog is gaining the right value only at the time of publishing. Probably you are wondering why you should publish it when it brings you value in understanding the dependencies, it is useful when diagnosing the incidents and other ITSM processes. The reason is simple,  it makes your work transparent to customers and users. So they can start understanding what you are doing and later even probably you can help them to solve their problems.

Integrating your Service Catalogue

  • The content of your Service Catalog is the master data around which ITSM / SIAM process ecosystem should be built. So it is important that the Service Catalog data is the same in all the systems namly ITSM tool, end user portal, IT financial management tools and more. To ensure that ,we recommend to keep a single source of information and integrate the data into other tools using integration methods (database calls, REST API, SOAP API…)
  • provide the tool which has a REST API which makes it possible to use the data in any other tools. But there can also be other possibilities e.g. some database or when enabling ITSM tool a similar service might be enabled. 

Enabling Continuous Improvement

  • Now that the Service Catalog is collected, published to the stakeholders, customers and users. Is had been integrated into other tools and with other processes. What is next? Continuous improvement is the answer.
  • A static snapshot of the service catalog was made, but the reality is that new services will be planned and some could be retired. Providers and service components can as well be changed whilst keeping the business service untouched. All kind of changes must be captured and updated in Service Catalog otherwise sooner or later the date becomes incorrect and corrupted. So now a consistency needs to be assured. 
  • In addition, other beneficial attributes will soon be recognized. So this will make the Service Catalog grow and bring in more value to the business and the stakeholders.  
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