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4 Service Catalog Functions That Go Beyond Listing IT Services

09/04/2014 by: The SunView Team

In the early days of IT service management many service catalogs were effectively basic lists of IT solutions that were available to workers. They were useful, but their impact on business operations were limited. This has changed, and you're going to be left behind if you are clinging to the idea of what service catalogs once were. As ITSM capabilities and needs have matured the innovation across the ITSM suite has hit the service catalog hard. Now, service catalogs give users access to a diverse range of resources all within an easy-to-navigate platform.

Some of those functions include:

1. Scheduling
Say you need to make a meeting room appointment or schedule a large event that everybody needs to know about. Without a service catalog you would have to use email and similar alerts and hope everybody read the message. You would then have to manually go into a bunch of scheduling apps to book the rooms you needed. A service catalog can be used to centralize all of these processes into one, making it easier to set up meetings and otherwise handle scheduling.

2.Distribute Knowledge
A service catalog can also act as a knowledge repository. For example, if a business is facing a common operational problem it can put the details of the issue in the service catalog and recommend solutions that allow users to work normally. Because the service catalog is integrated with the IT service desk and business process automation systems, users can often go right from reading this advice to initiating an automated resolution script that lets them avoid the issue. Service desks aren't knowledge centers, but they can make it much easier to first distribute information and then let users do something with that knowledge.

3. Respond to Emergencies
Sending out emergency alerts, whether they be because of a business problem or something much more dire - like a natural disaster or intruder on the premises - can be built into the service catalog and automated to reach all users. The service catalog can even be equipped with personalized apps that show users in different parts of the building and various work roles how they should respond to the alert. And using your service catalog like this makes it easier to ensure employee safety or continued productivity if the issue is only business continuity, not disaster response.

4. Act as a Catch-All Problem Solver
A service catalog can be whatever you want it to be. The great thing about modern solutions is that they feature the ability to be given user interface overlays and automation capabilities that provide important functionality in an easily accessible way. Instead of just searching for apps, users accessing the service catalog can do just about anything you can think of if you are willing to be creative about centralizing different solutions.

The key here is to be smart about how you move different capabilities into the service catalog. Because the system is integrated into both the IT and business infrastructures, it has the ability to feed users a great deal of data or let users manipulate a variety of applications and services. This can lead to powerful functionality that pays off in a variety of situations, but it can also be easy to get carried away. In many cases, it is best to build a bare-bones service catalog - something that is little more than a solution portfolio - and then gradually add new functions, see how users respond, adjust accordingly and continue expanding and refining strategies to find the perfect fit.

With the right combination of creative problem solving and a powerful solution, a good service catalog can help solve all of those tricky business problems by creating a centralized platform that all employees use.