In this article I will look at two of the most basic types of service catalogs in use extending these to eight possible service catalogs. This is an area that is simple to understand and lays the foundations for any service catalog initiative. Now please don’t rush off and assume that by two types of service catalog I mean solely what ITIL presents as the IT service catalog and the business service catalog. What I am referring to in this article is what is known as a records based service catalog and an actionable based service catalog. So, what do I mean by these two terms? Read on, as I explain these in more detail.

Records based service catalog:
A service record is a form that contains specific details about each service and its associated attributes. This is in much the same way that a CI (configuration item) record contains information about a CI and the attributes of the CI.

A service record:

  • holds information about the service
  • is related to other service records which forms the basis for service mapping and service impact analysis
  • links to related documentation, for example SLAs, OLAs and work instructions
  • identifies the status of the service which denotes its place in the service lifecycle

The service record can be created within a spreadsheet, a document, a service management application, a specific service catalog application or even a bespoke purpose built system. Obviously there are drawbacks to creating service records in documents, the main one being that the information exists in isolation from other service records with no direct links. Reporting on services is also manual and time consuming. Spreadsheets offer a little more functionality but have limitations and may not support anything more than basic service mappings. At the most basic level a service record contains information about a service. Service records can be linked to each other to show service dependencies to help with BIA (business impact analysis).

Actionable based service catalog:
The actionable service catalog is published to users and customers and allows them to order goods and services, log requests and interact with the organization providing the services. This service catalog type is a service itself and is considered dynamic.

Actionable service catalogs can be utilized to enable an organizations staff to work more efficiently and effectively and to reduce the cost of supporting them by using IT to automate the delivery of service requests. Customers are presented with more and more online and internet capabilities that allow them to interact with organizations to buy services directly or to use services to purchase products (online books and product stores come to mind) or self fulfill requests.

So what about the business and IT catalogs?
Good question. I have presented two basic types of service catalog – records based and actionable based. Within each of these we can place a number of additional service catalogs types which are described below:

Simple (or is it)?
If it is that simple, why do organizations struggle with getting a service catalog initiative right? Why do organizations struggle with understanding the basics? Lack of subject matter information is a main contributor to failed initiatives. Each service catalog type has distinct characteristics and a particular audience. Each service catalog type requires specific design aspects in order to be effective, efficient and to return value to the organisation.

Each of these service catalog types are explained in more detail in my book “The Service Catalog”. I also include specific details about designing, implementing and managing the different service catalog types. The reader will also find these eight service catalog types explained in full detail and all represented within a single diagram: the service portfolio pyramid.

My book “The Service Catalog” is published by Van Haren Publishing as part of the ITSM library and is available through online bookstores.

This article is taken from my ITSM Portal column

About the Author: Mark O'Loughlin