What’s Inside? Every Effective Service Catalog Includes These Four Parts

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

What’s Inside? Every Effective Service Catalog Includes These Four Parts

Posted by Don Casson

Wed, Aug 23, 2017

Understanding what makes up your Service Catalog is the fourth key to successful planning

Today, efficiency is at the heart of speed in IT service delivery. In fact, the need and desire for speed is the core of the digital era. Everybody wants things faster. Across industries, every aspect of business must go faster—from financial and accounting operations to marketing and sales programs to factory floor processes. If you’re too slow, your competitors have an advantage over you.

It’s no different for IT service management (ITSM); your customers expect fast service, and with a smile. In this fast-paced, competitive environment, an effective Service Catalog is necessary to ensure efficient, streamlined IT services.

The growing demand for services catalogs in an ever-evolving IT services field is one of the key takeaways in this Forrester Research white paper. Forrester says the following about the growing relevance of service catalogs:

“As IT moves from being a provider of technologies to a broker of services involving technology, a comprehensive service catalog becomes imperative for the health and future of the business.”

What makes up a Service Catalog?

Service Catalogs are essentially “storefronts.” It is where active services are presented to the customer. If a service is not active, then it is not included in the service catalog.  Since the service catalog is also generally the portal for customer interaction with IT, it usually includes the other interactions the customer commonly wants to have like reporting a problem, asking questions, checking status of open requests, etc.  

To get to a comprehensive service catalog, it is important to understand the parts of a service catalog:

  • #1 -- Service & Request

These terms are tied to one another, but each term has its own definition. A Service is consumable and durable.  It carries a commitment over time – such as hours of service, levels of service and quality of service. A service is long-term and continuous, while a request is a one-time action. A Request is not durable; it is transactional. And, Requests don’t carry Service Level Agreements, or SLAs. Instead, they have delivery time commitments for task completion.  At a high level, they are mostly the “add, change or remove services” kinds of actions. Once a Request is complete, you are done with it; you close the ticket.

The reason the terms Service and Request are always used together is because they are attached to each other. Request is the action against a service.  It’s like static electricity on a balloon at a children’s birthday party – while the balloon is charged, it sticks to any surface. But once the charge is gone, the balloon remains, though it is unable to stick to anything else, anymore. That is, until the balloon is rubbed on someone’s hair.

  • #2 -- Service Design Process

The Service Design Process is the consistent method used to build Services. For a simplified design process, be sure to create a description that everyone can understand. Identify who can access the service, who owns and manages the service, and the more detailed functionality of the service.  Then, find the underlying elements we need to make it fly like SLAs and Operational Level Agreements, or OLAs, as well as cost and supporting teams. 

Service Design Package.png
Figure 1: An example of a simplified view of a Service Design Package for a service called Virtual Meeting Collaboration

  • #3 -- Service Taxonomy

A beautiful, easy-to-use Service Taxonomy is an important element to the success of your Service Catalog. This part of the Service Catalog is the framework for logically managing services across different IT providers and different customers. Without Service Taxonomy, services can quickly sprawl out of control and be duplicative and confusing to you and your customer.

Service Taxonomy is useful in many ways. It is most useful when you are developing a lot of services. The more services you develop, the more complex it is to manage them, without a proper structure. The lack of a Service Taxonomy can make it difficult to understand the services. As for customers, Service Taxonomy helps them “find” or search for services. Or, it allows them to see logical groupings of services based on the terms they understand.   We have yet to find any modern, complete customer experience that isn’t underpinned by a solid taxonomy.

Creating and managing a taxonomy is a group effort – having a powerful, visual tool for working together is a must. Collaborating on the creation of a Service Taxonomy can be challenging. But an application that provides a complete, extensive service taxonomy framework can save you a lot of headaches and get you down the road to progress much faster.

Service Taxonomy.png

Figure 2: Service taxonomy framework. The image on the left is a graphical, mind mapping tool that is easy for groups to use. On the right is an example of how the same taxonomy may be presented in the Service Catalog in a technology like ServiceNow.


  • #4 -- Service Metrics

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. But by establishing service metrics, you can both measure performance and improve processes. Service metrics play a valuable, intertwined role linking customers and providers. In customer centric service management, IT ensures that organizational technology assets are well-managed and aligned with the key performance indicators (KPIs) that customers care most about. These KPIs cascade down in a pyramid as I discussed in a previous blog post, “The Secret to Effective Metrics in SACM.”


ITSM today has evolved from a tech-centric operation to service-centered approach. This transformation in the purpose of IT elevates the importance of the Service Catalog more than ever before.

In my next blog post, I'll highlight the 5 principles we applied when creating Evergreen's customer-centric service portal and catalog – they are: simple, beautiful, complete, predictive and leading.

Self-Service Portal Demo


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 dcasson@evergreensys.com



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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