IT Service Catalog vs. Request Portal: What Sets them Apart?

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

IT Service Catalog vs. Request Portal: What Sets them Apart?

Posted by Don Casson

Tue, Feb 24, 2015


The Service Catalog is not a Request Portal. The terms are often used interchangeably due to lack of knowledge, which can cause confusion for IT and IT's customers.

Over the past year, Evergreen conducted dozens of one-day Service Catalog workshops around the U.S. Attended by more than 500 people, a recurring theme we noted was that many attendees thought they had a Service Catalog, when in fact they actually had a Request Portal.

IT needs to increase its focus on 3 important areas:

  • Delivering services customers want and need
  • Better alignment with the needs of the business
  • Cost transparency to give visibility to the cost of services

Most IT organizations are striving to transform themselves from a "provider of IT" function into more of a business partner acting as an innovative broker/integrator for the benefit of the enterprise. An actionable, customer-centric Service Catalog that supports the business strategy is a terrific lever to help drive this transformation.

The Service Catalog is a strategic vehicle designed as an aggregation of IT components and innovative capabilities giving the business customer the power to solve problems.

In comparison, the Request Portal is a singular, simplified, tactical, transactional tool supporting immediate business needs. Items in a Request Portal are not usually services (i.e., something designed to meet the customer's needs and wants). More often than not it is a way for IT to externally list the things they are already doing day to day to support customers – designed from IT out rather than the customer in.

Let's look at the 6 characteristics that set a Service Catalog apart from a Request Portal.



The most important difference between a Service Catalog and a Request Portal is the strategic vs. tactical nature of the Service Catalog and the Request Portal.

The Service Catalog is a strategic tool aligned with the business strategy. We like to say the IT Service Catalog should empower employees to perform their jobs better and more productively.

The Request Portal is tactical and transitional. We like to use the term "transactional" because requests typically involve two parties and a specific, single interaction.

A service within the Service Catalog is created by combining components defined within the Service Portfolio to deliver a specific customer need. In fact, the Service Portfolio is the "factory" in which the services are developed.

The Service Catalog is proactive. Services are defined in the catalog in such a way that the customer has all the information available to decide whether to "purchase" the service or not. This includes a clear description, any cost, delivery timeframe, compatibility and any constraints or restrictions.

On the other hand, the Request Portal is reactive. It lists items that answer the question "what do you want to do?" For example: "Access Oracle Database." The consumer may not even understand whether that meets their needs, or how.

Check back for future posts covering more differences. In the meantime I invite you to click below to access my recent live webinar recording and download the related slides.


Service Catalog vs. Request Portal Webinar Recording



About the Author

Don Casson is CEO and co-founder of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm leading 
Fortune 500 companies to dramatically transform their IT operations. Feel free to contact Don at

Topics: Service Catalog, Service Management, IT Service Catalog, IT Service Management, IT Cost Transparency, Request Portal, ITSM Strategy, IT Strategy, IT Alignment


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