Ready to Create your IT Service Catalog?

Dr. ITIL is very pleased to publish this excellent article on IT Service Catalogs, including seven key steps to create your catalog and how to refine your catalog once it's created.

Ready to Create Your IT Service Catalog?
By Kevin LeBlanc.

Many experts agree that one of the first steps in running IT like a service-oriented business is to implement a usable service catalog. Adopting an IT catalog of services in alignment with an ITIL based service level management process can optimize service provision to the business while reducing the overall costs of IT service support and delivery.

Although many IT organizations have yet to formally publish their service offerings (let alone charge IT services back to the business), industry analysts now see IT service catalog adoption increasing.

But how is a service catalog is created? Which services should be included? And who should be involved in the process?

There are many benefits to the service catalog, but perhaps the most important driver is promoting continued relationship building between IT organizations and customers. Overall benefits of deploying a formal service catalog will differ depending on the organization, but should potentially include:

•Significant improvement in internal and external communications
•Foster a better understanding of business requirements and challenges
•Ability to allocate and match costs to specific business departments / units
•Allow competitive benchmarking against third party service providers
•Positively (and significantly) alter end-user consumption and behavior
•Increase demand awareness and visibility into IT service provision
•Reduce IT service and process inefficiencies redundancies
•Reallocation of IT resources to critical business systems
•Lower service provision error rates
•IT operational cost reductions

Creating the IT Service Catalog

The actual analysis, development and deployment of an IT service catalog can be daunting if approached with the intent of documenting attributes of all services pertaining to every customer. But a tactical and useful IT service catalog should not require a tremendous amount of effort-- in many situations, it may prove valuable to first pilot the catalog in order to determine which services and attributes need to be added or revised prior to the more comprehensive rollout.

Publishing the initial service catalog without chargeback, targeting a specific business unit or covering only a few primary IT services may allow for refinement and iterative maturity over time. But regardless of the scope of services included in the initial rollout, the catalog should be clearly written and focus on business value. In order to accomplish this, the following activities should be aligned with an IT organizations overall goals and objectives:

Establish Team: The initial catalog should be driven internally within IT and include adequate representation from all stakeholders within each domain to ensure documented services are appropriate and valid; executive sponsorship is also critical.
Establish Baseline: The team should create a list of all services IT offers, regardless of whether they will be included in the initial catalog of services. When creating the baseline catalog, it is important to consider the following key guidelines to ensure services offered can be effectively managed going forward:

•The service is self-contained and is not part of a larger service offering
•The service can be monitored and measured for consumption levels
•The service has costs that may vary with changes in consumer behavior
•The business could potentially procure the service externally

Refine Service Offerings: The initial baseline should be refined to include only those initial services to be included in the pilot or first iteration of the IT service catalog. If different levels of service will be provided, cost variations should be documented by consumption type.

Perform Service Benchmarks: Once services have been identified, service levels should be benchmarked using available monitoring capabilities and measurement techniques. Resultant metrics should be documented to ensure they are consistent and repeatable for incorporation into service level agreements with the customer.

Publish Service Catalog: After services are documented, reviewed and finalized, the service catalog should be made available to the business, preferably through an appropriate business relationship manager. Business feedback may be incorporated into the catalog and revised prior to service selection and establishing formal agreements.

Establish Service Agreement: Following business review and selection of services, any formal service selections and supporting agreements should be facilitated through the service level management process and documented in a standard service level agreement (SLA); service narratives may be used to define and continuously update service descriptions.

Improve Services: Any service improvement initiative should be iterative in nature and ensure ongoing improvement activities enhance communication with the business. Maximize operational efficiencies and continue cost reductions through a continuous service improvement program (CSIP).

Refining the Service Catalog

The cost, complexity and difficulty of implementing an IT service catalog will vary greatly depending on the details incorporated into the final document.

Therefore, different variations of the service catalog should be considered only after an initial catalog has been deployed successfully and accepted by the business customer.

Incorporating more detail and variation to the catalog can add significant additional value to the business and the IT organization. Some of these variations and enhancements to the catalog may include:

•Using uniform charges for a services (e.g. per server, person or business unit)
•Establishing usage or capacity-based charges (e.g. by GB or number of service calls)
•Adding incentives for consuming fewer services or units in a cycle
•Establishing tiered service offering of similar services (e.g. gold vs. silver service)
•Processes and procedures for procuring new services or adding additional customers

The Bottom Line: Most companies have not yet created IT service catalogs, let alone implement chargeback to the business for IT services. However, adoption of an IT catalog of services in alignment with the service level management process can promote rapid maturity of IT business relationship management practices. The deployment of an effective IT service catalog will not only clarify IT services to the business, but can significantly modify consumer behavior resulting in streamlined service consumption and overall cost reduction.

Kevin LeBlanc is a Process Excellence Consultant with ProcessWorx (

Kevin holds a M.S. degree in MIS and has 15 years experience as an Information Technology professional specializing in operational process improvement, service management and legislative compliance. Kevin can be reached at

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