IT Service Catalog vs. Request Portal: What Sets Them Apart? (Part 2)

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

IT Service Catalog vs. Request Portal: What Sets Them Apart? (Part 2)

Posted by Don Casson

Thu, Feb 26, 2015

(This is the second part in a series - click here for Part 1).


The Service Portfolio is the source of the components for the service defined in the Service Catalog. As example, I like to say that the Service Portfolio is like a box of Legos. It contains all the components IT has under management. These components can be put together (i.e., aggregated) to form a service.

Requests are typically simple, single actions in nature and are not generally combined together.

As an illustration, we like to use the example of employee onboarding. This service not only aggregates IT components and capabilities like network, storage and access, it also aggregates cross-functional departments like HR and Facilities into the Service. The "service" of employee onboarding may combine 40-50 actual requests from across 4-6 departments.

When we look at an example of a request, we see singular transactions. I want to print on the third-floor printer or I want access to the Oracle database or I want to increase the size of my mailbox.




The Service Catalog presents services that can be made up of a variety of components defined in the Service Portfolio. Component capabilities are typically the responsibility of distinct departments and operationally delivered to the customer as part of a service.

Requests are typically delivered by a single department or individual working from a queue or list of requests. The individual views the request, determines the task and activities necessary to accomplish the request and executes it. It is interesting to note that a service is in the eye of the consumer. For example, an automated routine to add antivirus software to a new PC would not likely be a "service" requested by the intended owner of the new PC, but it certainly would be by the technician who would have to do the work manually otherwise!

Cost transparency is critical when IT needs to show value for the services it defines and presents to its end users. The Service Catalog supports the capability to identify a price, chargebacks or showbacks for the service – and gives the customer the choice to "buy" or not, if appropriate. Cost transparency allows IT to provide insight on service costs and options – and get customer feedback as to the perceived (or actual) value of the services.

Requests rarely have an associated cost and are executed regardless of cost considerations.

Check back for future posts covering more differences. In the meantime if you are interested, our self-service demo of an advanced, employee self-service portal can give you a good idea of what customer-centric services look like. Click below for more information and to review the demo.


Employee Self-Service Portal Demo



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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