Five PDG (Pretty Darn Good) Reasons to Define a Service Catalog

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In my previous blog article, “Top 10 Things Companies Don’t Think About When They’re Thinking About a Service Catalog”, I said that the number one thing that businesses do not think about is the answer to “Why are we defining a Service Catalog?”

My answer was, “When you can answer this question, you’ve likely thought about the other 9 things I’ve listed above.”

Well, that got me to thinking.

And while I stand by my answers to numbers 2 through 10 of my “Top Ten List”, the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like my answer to “why are we defining a Service Catalog?”

So, I’ve come up with what I think are five PDG (Pretty Darn Good) reasons to define a Service Catalog. See what you think.

  1. Improve IT strategy.

Moving beyond the mantra of “run IT as a business” begins by defining what the business of IT is – and a significant portion of that definition comes with the establishment of the service catalog.   This enables IT to begin to look at itself as a portfolio by identifying what is being done today, what are the emerging needs of the business and how well is IT positioned to meet those needs, what are the core competencies of the IT organization, where do partnering and other sourcing opportunities exist…sounds like what a business would do, right? Having a service catalog helps sharpen the business’ focus on the use of IT, where to invest resources, and how to make IT a differentiator among the competition—a real integration of IT within overall business plans and strategies.

2. Build and maintain good business relationships.

Defining a (true) Service Catalog drives IT to improve its understanding of the business by learning and articulating how IT enables and supports business outcomes. A good Service Catalog, devoid of “IT speak”, illustrates the critical role IT has in the success of the business and articulates how IT provides value.  The Service Catalog should be used to market IT’s current capabilities, help manage expectations and demand for IT services, and facilitate delivery of meaningful metrics and reporting from the business (not technical) perspective.

3.  Enable better decision-making.

What solutions are available from IT? What do the solutions provided by IT do for us?  Having a single definitive source for knowledge about IT services not only enables better decision-making for customers, it enables better decision-making in other areas.  For example, having a service catalog enables informed business decisions regarding a sourcing strategy for IT.  By understanding IT’s core competencies and the goals for the use of IT within the business, opportunities for partnering or outsourcing commodity services can be identified.  Understanding the lifecycle of a service improves planning.  Knowing when a service is expected to be retired or a new service will come online, as part of the overall IT strategy, helps customers make better plans about the use of IT services.

4. Develop better IT budgets.

One of the ways to identify and define services is to define the value chain – the relationship of the components that make up an IT service from end-to-end. What can you do with this?  Develop cost models.  Developing and using cost models will identify and articulate where redundancy exists, and cost-justify existing (and future) services.  Cost modeling enables value determination by allowing a like-for-like comparison of service costs and facilitates a fact-based conversation with the customer regarding IT investments.  Having a service catalog and understanding what makes up the costs of services also enhances IT’s ability to leverage economies of scale in negotiating contracts with suppliers.

5.  Do better ITSM.

Defining services aligns IT by establishing accountability, and moving the focus of the individuals in the organization from ‘my component’ to ‘our service’.  By defining services, an IT organization will enable further integration between ITSM processes.  For example, ‘service’ should become the basis for a categorization scheme shared between the Incident, Problem, and Knowledge Management processes.  By identifying and defining the value chain of components that make up an IT service, the basis for configuration models within the CMDB will be defined.  Having a good CMDB, in turn, enhances the ability to make educated evaluations of risk and impact within the Availability, Capacity, IT Service Continuity, Change, and Problem Management processes.  Defining the Service Catalog will help identify and justify what else you should be doing from an ITSM perspective, and how to incorporate those efforts into the exiting ITSM ecosystem.

Don’t miss my monthly take on all things ITSM!  Click here to subscribe to my newsletter!  Need help defining your Service Catalog?  Consider starting  with my Service Identification and Definition workshop. 

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