Why a Common Language is Fundamental to Service Catalog Success

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

Why a Common Language is Fundamental to Service Catalog Success

Posted by Don Casson

Mon, Aug 14, 2017

Step three in planning for a Service Catalog is to create a definitions dictionary

The power of the Service Catalog is that it can narrow gaps between providers and users via the use of a common language. To illustrate the importance of common language in your Service Catalog plan, think of a time you’ve visited a restaurant in a foreign country where English isn’t the primary language. Even here in the U.S., you can find restaurants where menus are in another language. Just about 30 minutes from our headquarters offices in Sterling, Virginia is a small area in Washington D.C called Chinatown. There, you can find genuine Chinese cuisine. And it’s a very popular place to eat.

At this point, you may be asking yourself: What does Chinese cuisine have to do with planning a Service Catalog? The point is foundational…really. Read on.

In Chinatown, a restaurant may provide menus in Chinese: unless you know the language, you have no chance of understanding the menu items. That is, unless you have an English translation. And in some places, menus have pictures so you can see the food and point to it.

Without the English translation, the options on the menu don’t really matter – it’s just guesswork at that point. And this can be downright dangerous. Imagine someone with a shellfish allergy placing an order without knowing for sure if the food they are ordering includes shrimp.

To ensure a great experience, and to keep people coming back for more, the restaurant must first serve great tasting food. Secondly, patrons of the restaurant must feel confident in the ordering process. In this example, an English translation helps to close language gaps, improving communication and creating a better experience.

Don’t keep your customers guessing

ITIL is great, but it definitionally “runs out of gas” as we venture into customer-centric IT service delivery.  As an example, there is no ITIL concept or definition of a service taxonomy

When it comes to planning your Service Catalog, the lack of a common language – one that is understood by customers, providers and managers – can render your efforts useless. Providers may know about their offerings, but if customers are not seeing the same, they won’t buy. So, providers must translate the benefits in a way that’s understandable, and this requires involving your customers in the establishment of a definitions dictionary.


Common Language.png

A definitions dictionary educates your team and creates a common language and direction. So, in step three in getting your team ready to plan a Service Catalog, you must create a definitions dictionary beyond what ITIL provides. This is foundational to the success of your Service Catalog.  

Establishing a common language for your Service Catalog requires involvement from multiple stakeholders: customers, providers and managers. Evergreen provides clients with a definitions dictionary as a starting point. We provide guidance on running a three-hour workshop with key team members to refine, agree on and document key definitions. 

It’s worth repeating, without a common language you cannot communicate effectively with customers, providers or managers, so be sure to create a definitions dictionary so that everyone is on the same page.

If you are interested in getting a copy of our services definition document, let us know. We are happy to share it!


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


Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all