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  • Now on Centre Stage: The Service Catalog

    Written by Graham Furnis

    IT operations of many local and global organizations face continual cost pressures in combination with demands for new services and improved service levels. Sounds daunting! This challenge has led more and more executives to adopt new approaches, such as ITIL, in order to achieve the required greater efficiencies and quality.

    One of the first places we should look when adopting ITIL is to understand “what” we are managing. “What” are we trying to drive efficiencies and customer service for? We can only address the challenges of cost constraints, services, and service quality after we solve the “what” question. The answer to this question leads us naturally to the Service Catalog. The Service Catalog is formally identified in the ITIL framework within the connected Service Lifecycle phases of Service Strategy and Service Design.

     Service Strategy

    Within the lifecycle phase of Service Strategy, the Service Catalog is found within the process of Service Portfolio Management. This process manages strategic decisions through the system of the Service Portfolio. Overall, the Portfolio represents the complete set of services managed by a service provider. It shows the commitments and investments made across all customers and market spaces as well as all resources presently engaged or about to be engaged across the Service Lifecycle. 

    To elaborate on the Service Portfolio a little more, it is divided into three distinct categories of the Service Pipeline, the Service Catalog, and Retired Services. The definition of each component is as follows:

    • Service Pipeline provides a business view listing all IT services being considered for addition;
    • Service Catalog provides an organization-wide view of operational services and those in transition, and
    • Retired Services provides another business view of record for what was once offered.

    Of the three Portfolio elements, the Service Catalog is the largest and most critical. It’s the piece that Portfolio Management must spend the most amount of time ensuring proper alignment with business needs as well as funding. It’s very much all business management around the Service Catalog in Portfolio Management.

    Service Design

    Within the lifecycle phase of Service Design, the Service Catalog is found within its own process of Service Catalog Management, and with tight connection to the Service Level Management process. 

    The specific Service Catalog Management process is dedicated to publishing and maintaining an accurate Service Catalog. This catalog is meat to be used by both the business and by IT, and so it is designed with a Business View and a Technical View. Easy to write about, but not as easy nor quick to accomplish in real life. 

    What should we write up in our Service Catalog? Here’s where the connection to Service Level Management comes into play. Service Level Management knows all about the Customer and IT agreements in place regarding services. They’re the experts. Service Level Management will take key summaries of these agreements and pass these along to the Service Catalog process to be included in the Service Catalog business or technical views. 

    Wherever the Service Catalog is produced and managed in your organization, it is considered a foundation for success in defining services and driving communications between the business and IT.  In my next post I will discuss avoiding making the Service Catalog more actionable as opposed to static.

    Graham Furnis is fully immersed and passionate in providing ITSM solutions. He is a business-driven IT professional with 20+ years of technology and management experience. He is certified as an ITIL Manager and Expert as well as an accredited instructor.

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