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Thinking About a Service Catalog: Five Questions to Ask

12/13/2011 by: The SunView Team


Even though holiday shopping seems to be off to a great start in the US, uncertainty with regard to the global economy is still getting top billing at most media outlets. Given that ambiguity, it's more than likely a number of you are facing continued budget and workforce reduction. At the same time, there doesn't seem to be a parallel process for reducing incidents or requests. In short, your help desk is stressed, and you need a strategy to navigate a 2012 that will likely look very similar to 2011.

Ultimately, the best way to get more done, in less time, is to give the responsibility to someone else. OK, that's not completely true, but part of that logic can be used. Ideally, distribution of tasks, as well as empowerment of individuals to solve their own issues, can take a significant amount of stress off areas that are feeling a pinch. Top all that off with making sure that critical information gets routed to the right individuals, and success is guaranteed.

Of course if your organization is following a set of best practices like ITIL, a Service Catalog should already be on your radar, or part of your ITSM implementation. If it's not, that's not the end of the world. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity to do some simple analysis and evaluate how to better position the services you offer.

Ultimately this does require some upfront work that can be as simple or as complex as you like. While we prefer the former, we also don't think it's a good idea to go randomly doling out tasks, or automating items that aren't used very frequently. That approach will more than likely have the opposite effect. So, let's take time tested approach with a set of straight forward questions that promote discovery.

Listed below are five questions you should ask as part of any project. We've aimed them towards the discovery of services that would be great candidates for a Service Catalog.

  • Who uses our services?
    Your ITSM solution should offer a report that can quickly provide this information. A good part of this exercise is to organize by common characteristics such as department.
  • What services are they requesting?
    Again your ITSM solution should be able to provide this information. You'll want some basic counts to associate to each service. Also, be sure to include what information is necessary to complete a request.
  • When are services most frequently requested?
    It's not uncommon to see, and you may already know, that you receive a large volume of requests "after hours." You'll want to map out these times, and then track it back to the answer to the previous question above.
  • Where will we keep a list of services?
    We tend to be a bit partial to this answer, and again, if you are implementing best practices such as ITIL, the answer is the Service Catalog.
  • Why are we choosing to list these services?
    If you can't come up with a convincing argument, it likely isn't a good candidate for the Service Catalog. So, let your ability to explain your reasoning for inclusion be your guide.
Image: Flickr|dfulmer