Is Doing a Service Catalog Worth the Effort? YES!

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

Is Doing a Service Catalog Worth the Effort? YES!

Posted by Don Casson

Mon, Aug 07, 2017

The first step to building a customer-centric Service Catalog and maximizing IT value

Historically, IT has had one job: to manage the information technology systems of an organization. Most times, the IT organization of the past set about doing their activities with minimal understanding or direction as to how their efforts supported business goals. But, once the Service Catalog enters the picture, the value of IT can grow exponentially. In fact, the Service Catalog is a key driver behind the transformative change of the forward-thinking IT organizations over the past decade – from delivering discrete technical outcomes to providing end-to-end, complete and beautiful customer services. The services these IT leaders deliver are foundational to the success of the business.

What this means is that your Service Catalog is very important. It is a fundamental element to a value-driven IT enterprise, and the success of your business. And it’s challenging to get it right, but as I discussed in my last post, you must consider the framework for key IT projects as you plan your Service Catalog to lay the groundwork for an effective implementation. This sets you on the path to success.

Now, you’re ready to take the next steps to get your team ready – there are five steps to be more precise.

Service Catalog Project - Why.png

The first step comes in the form of a question. (And I’ll talk about all of the steps over the next few blog posts).

NOTE: If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you may have noticed that I ask a lot of questions when advising clients on their ITSM initiatives, whether simplifying asset and configuration management or adopting an effective ITSM approach. And, this blog post is no different.

So, let’s get to it.

Why are we doing a Service Catalog?

First, let’s define Service Catalog. An IT service catalog is a "database or structured document” as defined by ITIL. When we consider IT services (where most start the journey) there are generally two types of IT service presented in the Service Catalog: “customer (employee) -facing services that are visible to the business (employees); and supporting, or internal IT services required by the service provider to deliver customer-facing services.”

In searching for answers, it’s important to realize the drivers behind your Service Catalog project. While we could define more or sort them differently, at the highest level we can group the reasons / benefits for doing this into three general buckets. 

  1. Customer self service & strategic alignment. In a previous post, I talked about a smarter approach to ITSM, where I emphasize starting your efforts with the customer in mind, and then seeing how this approach changes what you do. Turning around the support paradigm – looking customers in rather than IT out – and changing IT’s view of what it focuses on in relation to what the business really needs is critical for strategic alignment. I use the term “Amazon like experience” because it offers a strong “visual” goal that nearly everyone can readily understand. The key measure here is user adoption rates, social media feedback and business alignment.

  2. Economic and efficiency benefits. We’ve all seen the mortgage commercials that promote the elimination of the “middle man.” That is, the process of getting a mortgage is simplified through technology, and as a result, costs are lowered and convenience for customers is strengthened. The drive for economic and efficiency benefits generate potentially large gains for the business through the elimination of work – via self service, choice simplification and automation. A principle we call balanced design – that is, “give the customer what they want to get what IT needs” means we can redesign the work so the customer enjoys the experience through self service. And IT is never even involved – the middle man is no more. Think about it, when was the last time you spoke to someone at Amazon?

  1. Quality of Service. Agility, speed and accuracy – these three words really describe the overarching measure of success as it combines all the activities of the customer, the business and IT in one set of measures. And, a well-founded Service Catalog project needs to have goals and measures in each of these areas.

You may be looking to deliver an Amazon-like customer experience. Perhaps your aim is to automate tasks to eliminate redundant work. Or, maybe you just want to ensure high quality, consistent service. Whatever your goal, having the right measures in place will help you determine the effectiveness of your strategy. As you investigate the reasoning behind your Service Catalog initiative, be sure to discuss and document, clearly define your customer, and focus on customer needs.

Jeff Bezos once said, “If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering."

In other words, if your customers don’t win, you won’t either.

(Click here for the next post in this series: Step two for effective Service Catalog Planning includes properly defining roles, responsibilities and governance)


About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 50 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services

Feel free to contact Don at



Topics: Service Now, ServiceNow, Service Catalog Consultant, ITIL Consulting, IT Service Catalog, IT Service Catalog Workshops, ITSM Strategy, Employee Self-Service Portal, ITIL Strategy, Customer-Centric IT, ServiceNow Partner, Customer-Centric ITSM, Service Portal, Service Catalog Planning


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