How to get started with a Service Catalog

20 July 2017 | Articles

This is the first of a series of articles about ITSM and how to implement it in your company. We’ll start by talking about some steps to manage your requests, specifically about building a service catalog.

Service management isn’t just for your IT team, but other business areas can benefit from these practices and approaches too. When you’re interested in improving ITSM, it is important to know what are the main services that you offer and how they will be delivered. If you use the ITIL standard, when designing your services, it suggests that you create an IT service catalog to make the request process easier.

Why is a Service Catalog so IMPORTANT?

We’ve all faced it – the storm of requests from all difference places. E-mail, phone calls, internal messaging, and our favorite – Dave from accounting stopping us in the hallway once or twice a week. But how can you avoid this chaotic pattern if you haven’t established what services you provide, both internally and externally? In order to improve your request management, you have to start with documenting your different services and how they can be requested.

A service catalog shouldn’t only be a list, but as the first step to centralize your request process management. After creating it, you can define service levels, automate processes and have parameters to monitor your services.

This way, it’s possible to save time and resources, providing access to important information to make future improvements and avoid casual bottlenecks that can impact your deliverables.

The benefits of having a service catalog:

  • Transparency, standardization and agility when requesting services.
  • Eliminates ambiguity and confusion about services’ nature and who is responsible for them.
  • Improve customer experience by creating a single and centralized interface to request, specify and make different types of services available.
  • Reduce costs and time spent with decentralized information, which improves the efficiency when solving issues and delivering service components, ensuring more quality during the process.
  • Speed-up support to different areas and the decision-making process, by monitoring requests that were not on company’s radar screen before.

Getting Started

Start with your team. Get them together to align expectations, restrictions, deadlines and descriptions with their clients to design the service catalog. Map your most recurrent requests. Define services and how they are provided in a clear way. You need to have a common understanding about what they represent, their benefits and what they need to include, always aligning them with your business goals and the areas involved.

Since we’re working with both the customers (internal and external) and the people responsible for providing these services, it would be important to reserve more detailed technical terms and information for internal use. Understand what services must be provided and make sure that they are described in a simple and easy way, always thinking about the end users and their doubts.

Define what will be presented to customers and who will be responsible for solving that request. It’s important to think ahead and define the next steps to optimize your service deliveries.

7 steps to create your service catalog:

  •  Create a group of stakeholders to discuss and establish what services will be part of the catalog. Add members that are familiar with user’s needs, managers and the team that will provide these services.
  • Identify and evaluate what services were requested during a certain period, so you can have a base of the most recurring requests and what channels were used to communicate them.
  • Document the processes. You can use pen and paper, sticky notes or use a wiki tool to ensure centralized, trackable and available information for interested people.
  • Get your customers involved in the service definition. Since they are at the heart of the process, their feedback is paramount for this initiative to be successful.
  • Group similar requests together to help your customer find what they need and for your internal staff to categorize them in a quick way.
  • Determine what touch points and channels will be used to request services. You need to clarify how request process works and have available communication channels in case your customer needs to address or add something new to your team.
  • If the request needs some approval process or is only provided during business hours or restricted to specific days, you need to communicate clearly to your customer about these service requirements or restrictions.

Using ITSM in your company’s strategy

After defining your services, be sure to communicate and engage the internal use of this service catalog. It’s important to periodically evaluate it, establishing a change management and keep it always updated.

Remember that the service catalog can help to show the value of your teams. In addition to that, after standardizing your IT services, you can use the same approach and expand its benefits for productivity improvement in other areas like Marketing, Finance, Legal and HR.

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