9 Tips for Creating an IT Service Catalog

Why do you need an IT Service Catalog? Let’s count some of the ways.  A Service Catalog offers your organization an efficient tool you can use to:

  • Define and publish available services.
  • Standardize service fulfillment processes.
  • Establish achievable service levels.
  • Determine the associated costs to manage performance.

When the new catalog is in place, IT organizations can begin to operate as a business.  Services that are not frequently requested by customers can be discontinued, and delivery processes for high-volume services can be optimized. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) provide greater visibility to control costs and respond to customer demand.

The following describes some crucial hints and tips for ensuring that you reap the benefits of successful service catalog implementation.

1. Pilot the Catalog

Determine which services and attributes need to be included or revised prior to comprehensive rollout. Publishing the initial service catalog without chargeback, targeting a specific business unit, or covering only a few primary IT services may allow for refinement and iterative maturity over time.

2. Establish Your Team

The initial catalog should be driven internally within IT, and should include adequate representation from all stakeholders within each domain to ensure that documented services are appropriate and valid. Executive sponsorship is also critical.

 3. Establish A Baseline

The team should create a list of all the services that IT offers, regardless if whether or not they will be included in the initial catalog of services. When creating the baseline catalog, it is important to consider the following key guidelines to ensure that services offered can be effectively managed moving forward:

  • The service is self-contained and is not part of a larger service offering.
  • The service can be monitored and measured for consumption levels.
  • The service has costs that may vary with changes in consumer behavior.
  • The business could potentially procure the service externally.

4. Refine Service Offerings

The initial baseline should be refined to include only those initial services to be included in the pilot or first iteration of the IT service catalog. If different levels of service will be provided, cost variations should be documented by consumption type.

5. Perform Service Benchmarks

Once services have been identified, service levels should be benchmarked using available monitoring capabilities and measurement techniques.

6. Publish the Service Catalog

After services are documented, reviewed, and finalized, the service catalog should be made available to the business, preferably through an appropriate business relationship manager.

7. Establish Service Agreement

Following business review and selection of services, any formal service selections and supporting agreements should be facilitated through the service level management process and documented in a standard Service Level Agreement (SLA).

8. Improve Services

Any service improvement initiative should be iterative in nature and should ensure that ongoing improvement activities enhance communication with the business. Maximize operational efficiencies and continue cost reductions through a continuous service improvement program (CSIP).

9. Refine the Service Catalog

The cost, complexity, and difficulty of implementing an IT service catalog will vary greatly depending on the details incorporated into the final document.

At the end of the day, Service Catalogs allow us to become more informed of customer desires as well as our offering potential.

Want to Create an IT Service Catalog for Your Company?

The dedicated team at The Art of Service has designed a step-by-step toolkit to aid any IT professional in the implementation of Service Catalog capabilities in any organization. The toolkit aims to introduce Service Catalog concepts, as well as provide you with the tools to successfully create a workable Service Catalog culture in your organization.  Click here and check it out!


Practical Advice for Preparing Your 2014 IT Budget — And Free Templates!

Let’s face it, friends.  Budgeting can be a real pain!

I’ve seen IT managers spend hours upon hours developing what they think is a concise budget and proudly deliver it to their manager thinking it is “accurate” and “what their manager wants” only to have it summarily rejected and sent back for a re-work. In other cases, I’ve known IT managers who spent countless hours developing an approved budget only to find themselves asking for more money four or five months into the year because their actual expenses are blowing out of their budget.

Preparing your annual IT budget does not have to be an ordeal. It can actually be simple and a rather quick process when you are prepared, know what to do, and you have tools to help.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, being accurate is not always your top priority when budgeting. Certainly, you want to have insight into the budget categories and have your estimates fall into the right “ballpark”, but you also need to be appropriately conservative and build the appropriate buffers into the numbers. The reason is simple:

Surprises Happen!

Not only do surprises happen, but those surprises are almost always costly surprises — seldom are they good surprises!

To help you organize your thought process around budgeting I have assembled the spreadsheets I have used in the past to prepare dozens of IT budgets for various businesses.  You can download all of my worksheets for free right here:

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While these worksheets will be quite helpful in helping you organize and plan your budget, I highly recommend you also take a MDE_IT-Budgeting-d-150x150quick hour or 2 and read through my concise eBook:  IT Budgeting:  Operational and Capital Budgeting Made Easy.  This book will reveal my practical secrets for creating a successful IT budget.  Using my methods, I have never missed a plan and now you can benefit from my insights.  Click here to download my book and add a little sanity to budget season!