Service Catalogs – Rallying Cry for the IT manager

I pitched the service catalog concept to a service provider this week. Vendors and ITIL consultants have – in a sense – done IT a disservice marketing their wares. High-priced engagements and software have run off many would-be adopters. I think executive management sees the price tags and scratch their heads trying to understand the value proposition… “it’s just a list of things we do, isn’t it?”.

That is exactly right. And you don’t need to purchase a three-tier application or hire a management consulting firm to do it. I quickly crafted an example using Powerpoint callouts. That’s really all there is to it. And the exercise forces you to figure out what you do, what you don’t do, and what you aspire to do, along with the associated pricing and cost structures. If it’s intended for end-user consumption, you are forced to identify the actually end product that provides business value.

Granted, there is a lot more value to be had when building out the back-end of a catalog. That’s where some outside assistance may be worthwhile, but vendors try to sneak all of that in under the mask of building a service catalog…. thus making the concept fluff and hype.

The service catalog can tie together and place into context all of your IT processes. It is another ingress point to the idea of structured IT operations and services… another rallying cry for the IT manager! To offer a service, you have to define it. Quantify the benefits. Explain the deliverable. List what’s in scope and what’s out of scope, or what could be had for extra investment. You have to draft a plan on how to deliver that service, assign resources, materials, and determine the cost. Then you vet that plan, again and again, because either as a service provider trying to make a profit or an end-user trying to stay within a budget, you have to satisfy your customer while still making your numbers.

And in order to deliver, you have to control the components of that service. That’s configuration, change and release management. Quality gateways – portfolio selection, design review, production acceptance. All sorts of good stuff can come out of this process.

BTW, the Service Catalog is discussed in more detail elsewhere on this site.