#SMFlashbook – Best Tip(s) for Building a Service Catalog

This blog is being posted today as part of a larger community effort to publish common topic blogs on the same day. I encourage you to review the other blogs on this subject by searching the hashtag #SMFlashbook.

I was simultaneously confused and disappointed by the recent itSMF/Forrester survey results that indicated a large number of organizations had not built a Service Catalog due to lack of funding.    I am also always confused when organizations move forward with their Service Management initiatives without first defining their services. 
So I challenge you with a question:  How can you manage services if you do not have a clear understanding of the services that you provide? 

Here are some very simple and virtually free tips for creating an initial and meaningful Service Catalog:
  • Step away from your tool.   The first steps can be captured on paper, whiteboards or in documents.  The tool part will come later.
  • Gather stakeholders and collectively define and agree on your business services. If you do not know where to start, take a look at your company website or intranet.  In actuality, all businesses or business units only do five things:
o   Acquire or develop a product
o   Market and sell the product
o   Deliver the product (logistics)
o   Support the product
o   Have a corporate infrastructure – HR, IT, Finance, etc.
  • Map the IT Service (s) that underpin each of your business services.  Remember, an app is not a service – one service is likely comprised of multiple applications and infrastructure.  Try to use the same terminology for the business and IT service (e.g., the “Fullfillment Service”)
  • Describe the purpose and use of the service in concise,  business-speak
  • Identify and document the stakeholders for each service
  • Try to define some very generic service levels or service hours for each service
  • Review, agree and publish 
  • If you have a Configuration Management System, you can then replicate this information in a “service CI” record.  The Service CI can then be joined with all of the other  technical and non-technical CIs that contribute to the service.  This allows you to compose or decompose the service  for processes such as Incident, Problem and Change.
It’s too bad that the concept of a Service Catalog (or Service Portfolio) has gained a reputation for being complex and difficult to attain.  In truth, if you follow the above guidelines for defining services, you should not have hundreds of services – some very large organizations only have less than 25.  The difficult part is getting your stakeholders to focus on business services and outcomes, not technical applications and output.  Start simple, stay simple!         

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