A service catalogue describes all the IS/IT services that IT service provider are offering the business. Sounds easy right? Well, it is but at the same time there are important aspects to consider. Let me start of by asking you a couple of questions, oddly enough about restaurants.
Which are the most successful restaurants? When considering great restaurants, what qualities you think is most important? Do you know of any good restaurant that does not have any menu? How can a restaurant become really great at what they do?
Without going into details, I would like to use the word calibration, yes, I have said it before, this is one of my favorite words.
Much like a mature IT Service provider, a good restaurant knows what people want; they calibrate their menu, their processes and their staff on delivering a set of meals in different categories, thus satisfying the needs of their clients.
Traditionally within IT we try to do just about everything we are asked to do, we try to support everything and many times we are promising more than we can deliver. This since we are trying to do everything, which of course is impossible. In comes the service catalogue, and suddenly someone says that we will standardize our delivery, support only what we deliver and know about. The first thought is of course that this will not be very popular in the organization, but this is wrong. Because the service catalogue is of course based on what the organization, the business, needs and are willing to pay for. Suddenly we have a very fruitful and constructive conversation going on with the business, we are both making some trade-offs to get what we want and, at the end of the day, we are both ending up with something that will greatly enhance the results of what we are doing.
To understand the ingenuity of the service catalogue you first need to understand what is a service. I usually tell that a service is a black box to the customer, it is the results he need to achieve by using IS/IT without having to worry about how to get it. Consider going to the hairdresser, you sit down and respond to a set of questions about your “hair preferences”, then just relax, and let the professional do his/her job. This is service delivery. You do not care about what kind of scissors, combs, shampoo or other things they use, you are focused on your goals using the service. There will be more about services in later blogs (please ask if you want to know more already now).
So, exactly what do the business AND the IS/IT service provider gain by having a good service catalogue? I will just give you a few examples.
It turns out that the business does not need 23221 different computer options (colors etc), they are perfectly happy with 3-4 options, based on their work roles. In addition, most software and peripherals they need can be bundled into a couple of options. Doing this we have effectively eliminated about 23221-4 hardware options and we have saved a lot of time and complexity from the business having to think about exactly what they need. They just check our menu and orders. In other words, we are creating something that is predictable, proactive, efficient and based on business value.
Besides doing a huge rationalization of different computers, screen, peripherals, software and a lot more, we also made it very much easier to learn to support the options we are delivering. IT may also consolidate their number of suppliers, improve their contracts, in general create, and maintain a controlled situation over the service delivery. We are able to provide a much improved service to the business, faster and cheaper, isn’t that something?
The IT Service provider can offer service levels to the business. Based on business process requirements and characteristics such as peak hours, patterns of business activity and other important business aspects. This since we, in the process of producing a service catalogue, will learn a lot about the business, what they really need and what most of the times they ask for since they can have it. We are able to use our resources a whole lot smarter, which enables us to perform on a whole other level.
Finally, in order to include new services, or change current services, everyone will learn that there is a process. You cannot just add and/or change things, we need to update the service catalogue, and in order to enter the service catalogue things such as routines, categorization and other aspects of the service delivery needs to be managed. IS/IT becomes a lot more proactive and pays more attention to really establishing new/changed services before starting to “sell” them in the service catalogue. This is extremely positive in a great number of ways, just consider killing that “wild west” factor that creates errors, gives bad reputation and are a big obstacle for having a good relationship with the business.
These are a few of the benefits from using a service catalogue. Now, I know a few of you are thinking that this cannot possible only be from implementing a service catalogue. No, certainly not, you are completely right. But in the efforts of adapting the IS/IT delivery from delivering things to instead deliver services, having a great dialogue with the business, performing the standardization and all the other activities needed to implement the service catalogue, you will arrive at this points.
The Service Catalogue is one of the main catalyst for improving the IS/IT delivery, as well as greatly improving the IT – business relationship and boosting the IS/IT business value.
So, what are you waiting for? If you already have one, improve it! If you do not have a service catalogue, get one already!
Stay smart ladies and gentlemen!