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The Three Worst Mistakes You Can Make When Creating Your IT Service Catalog

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Worst IT Service Catalog MistakesIn the world of IT service management, a well-thought-out IT service catalog is a requisite for success. So when it comes times to implementing a service catalog — much less defining and structuring one — it’s essential to make sure you have the most important bases covered.

We spoke with Doug Tedder, the principal of Tedder Consulting, an ITSM and IT Governance consultancy, to discuss some of the major pitfalls to avoid when creating a service catalog for your organization. Tedder has years of experience within the ITSM space across a number of different industries, and his advice about the “dos and don’ts” of service catalog implementation is worth its weight in gold.

#1: Don’t Confuse Services with Service Requests

First of all, what exactly is an IT service catalog? The service catalog is simply a list of all available services provided by the IT organization. Of key importance here is to understand the difference between services and service requests. The services that comprise your service catalog are outcome-based deliverables that enable or support specific business functions. In contrast, service requests are initiated by users who need something IT can provide and can be fulfilled, for example, by delivering a product that sits on a shelf or resetting a password. When organizations fail to understand this important distinction—and many do—the service catalog will not deliver the intended benefits. According to Tedder, even ITSM tool vendors confuse the terms, further shortchanging the real business value an IT service catalog can bring to your organization.

#2: Don’t Limit the Scope of Possibilities

Aside from understanding the true meaning of a service catalog, one of the most preliminary — and no doubt most critical — steps you can take to ensure a successful service catalog launch is to reach agreement on the services to be included in your catalog — something that, as Tedder points out, most companies don’t take enough time to do. If defining the content within your IT service catalog takes just a few days (versus several weeks or more), you are likely missing key opportunities to provide value to the business and your customers.

To this end, defining the IT service catalog is not about listing every application or activity your team performs and calling them “services.” It is about developing a genuine understanding of how IT can combine people, processes, supplier, and technology to drive meaningful outcomes across the business. (Hint: to do this, you need to know what the business considers valuable!) This is the cornerstone of your IT service catalog.

#3: Don’t Cut Corners With Planning

Finally, Tedder recommends planning the catalog with as much forethought as possible. Successful implementation, Tedder says, is the end result of comprehensive and careful planning, without which your project will inevitably go sideways and fail to deliver on its promise. Critical to this is ensuring you don’t design your service catalog in a vacuum; it’s imperative to involve key members of your business and IT team in the planning process to ensure everyone is invested in a successful outcome and prepared for future business changes the service catalog will bring about.