During my travels meeting and speaking on the delivery of IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions, I've seen increased interest in the Service Catalog. I asked several practitioners what is prompting this attention and here are the results of my straw poll, in no particular order:
- Self-service available through the Service Catalog is a more attractive alternative than waiting in a lengthy queue to speak to a service desk operator.
- We have reached a turning point where more people have confidence in automated IT processes (selections in a Service Catalog) than in dealing with humans.
- Generation Y, online since birth, makes an easy jump from selecting tunes online to selecting services online.
It seems that the growing maturity and familiarity with the use of online requesting services in every day life are driving acceptance of an online Service Catalog for requesting IT-driven business services,
IT-driven business services are the target of the Service Catalog in ITIL® V3. However, most of the implementations I have seen are more like IT request systems on steroids.
An IT request system enables orders for basic IT consumables and services such as password reset or laptop requests. IT request systems on steroids may additionally measure IT services levels and attach a token cost (typically an estimate) to services.
A Service Catalog as described in ITIL V3 offers services that the business consumes, described in business, not IT, terms. These services come with business service levels and realistic business costs-which are typically charged back to the business consumer.
From an IT perspective, business services are more complicated to define than IT services so an IT request system on steroids may be a comfortable place to stay. However, I encourage making the leap to a full-fledged Service Catalog.
To help, I recommend the following article, which will assist IT professionals in driving through a process to develop business services to be offered through the Service Catalog. The article, entitled "The Eight Essential Elements of an IT Service Lifecycle: Defining Services to Run IT as a Business," was written by my CA colleague Eric Feldman and published on ITSMWatch.com. In this piece, Eric discusses how the IT service lifecycle "can serve as a framework to help define, publish, and improve service offerings by redefining an IT service in the context of a dynamic business environment." He identifies the 8 steps you can go through to start changing your thinking and deliver IT-driven business services.
These steps include:
- Definition of the Service
- Publication of services
- The Request Model
- Provisioning of Services,
- Cost Recovery Process
- Ongoing Process
So wean yourself off steroids and offer IT-driven business services through a true Service Catalog. And while you are doing this, remember that you need to balance demand with cost, especially in these economic times!
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