Want to know what roles are required for an effective service catalog?

Believe it or not but it takes much more than just a service catalog manager to effectively produce and manage a service catalog that provides value to the business and achieves desired business outcomes.

Read my new column over at the ITSM Portal for more details.

The column is available here

What roles are required for an effective service catalog?

If you think the answer to this simple question is just the service catalog manager, then think again!

True, there should be a service catalog manager, or managers depending on the size, scale, complexity and number of service catalogs in use. However, in addition to the service catalog manager there are a number of other key roles that are required.

These roles contribute to the effectiveness, relevance, management and operation of a service catalog and ensure that each service catalog, the information they contain and the function that they fulfil are fit for purpose, fit for use and delivers value and expected outcomes to the organisation and their customers.

There should be an owner of the complete service portfolio at an executive level. This is to ensure overall accountability exists in the organization for the service portfolio. In order for this to be effective, ownership and accountability has to be delegated downwards to the various management layers in the form of:

  • Service catalog managers.
  • Service owners.
  • Process owners.
  • Departmental managers.
  • Operational managers.
  • Line managers.
  • Product managers.

In medium and large organisations expect to find multiple portfolio owners, while in smaller organisations, look to find even one.  

The following list is intended to outline a number of important roles that will be involved one way or another with the various service catalogs.

  • Service portfolio manager.
  • Supplier manager.
  • Contracts manager.
  • Service level manager.
  • Service catalog manager.
  • Service catalog librarian.
  • Finance manager.
  • Service owner.
  • Process owner.
  • Configuration manager.
  • Configuration librarian.
  • Change manager.
  • Capacity manager.
  • Availability manager.
  • Communications specialist.
  • Product manager.

In practice small and medium sized organizations may have to combine numerous roles as there is a considerable investment required in time and manpower in fulfilling all these roles. Even large organizations may want to combine some of the roles in an effort to lower overheads, bureaucracy, staff numbers and complexity etc.

Therefore, individual roles do not necessarily have to be performed by individual personnel but may be shared amongst a number of people. For example supplier management may be performed by a specific team of people if the organization is large and is dealing with a high number of suppliers. The roles are not necessarily a person’s single job and may only form part of their overall day to day job function or duties.

The roles for each process and function should be identified, assigned to people and managed to ensure that they are carried out. Each process should have a specific owner. Some of the responsibilities of the process owner are to:

  • Represent the process and the delivery of the process outputs on behalf of the business.
  • Ensure that a process exists and that it is fit for purpose and fit for use.
  • Act as the overall champion and gatekeeper of the process.
  • Ensure that the process is continually reviewed.
  • Resolve conflicts that arise regarding the process.
  • Ensure that relevant KPIs and metrics are identified, recorded and reported.

In order for processes and functions to be effective and serve their purpose clear lines of responsibility need to exist, are assigned and acknowledged. Failure to do this will lead to non-accountability, a lack of responsibility and confusion over who is meant to do what. The following are applicable:

  • Each function and process should have specific roles defined.
  • Each role should have clear responsibilities that allows the person assigned the role understand their obligations in regard to the role.
  • Each role should be assigned to specific people to ensure that the role is carried out.

It should be clear that there are numerous roles that should interface with the service catalog(s) and their supporting processes. In addition each role requires a defined level of accountability, responsibility and effectiveness in order for them, and the various service catalog(s) achieve any real value for the organisation.

Further details on this topic and a full in-depth description of each role listed above is available in chapter six of my book “The Service Catalog” which is published by Van Haren Publishing as part of the ITSM ‘Best Practice’ library and is available through online bookstores.

Author: Mark O’Loughlin

Do you want a quick and easy definition of what is a service?

Are you working on a service catalog initiative or have been tasked with defining what your IT department does in the context of services?

Are you trying to work out how much your IT services cost – either as a provider or supplier of IT services?

Would you like to be able to charge the business back fairly based on their consumption of IT services?

Read on to find a really useful definition of a service within the service catalog?

Over the last few weeks I have had a number of on-line (forum) and off-line discussions about the service catalog. These are very typical of the main types of questions that are presented. It is unfortunate to find that, overwhelming, people are still ask the same basic question – what is a service and how do we define services in a service catalog? This is most frequently asked by people involved in IT or the provision of IT as a service to an organisation either internally, externally or both.

There is a lot of misunderstanding as to what exactly a service is, and what components make up a service. This confusion is not confined to organizations. Practitioners, consultants and vendors have struggled with defining services, not in definition, but in the context of what is perceived as a service in an organization and how best to represent these services.

In the IT space an area where many people find themselves in disagreement is with regards to the definitions of what constitutes a service, never mind what an (IT) system or an (IT) service might actually be. In one sense it may not matter if we disagree. One may argue that whether we call something an (IT) system or an (IT) service is not as important as actually mapping the service accurately and that this is just an exercise in taxonomy.

Having looked at many definitions of what is a service, I tend to use the following as a quick and easy definition:

A service is any act or performance that one person can offer to another, that is intangible, produced at the moment of delivery and does not result in transfer of ownership. Service value and quality is based on customer perception, where satisfaction is based on outcomes and is subjective.

In the context of this discussion there are three main services are:

  • Customer service: services provided to the organizations external customers.
  • Business service:  support business processes that enable the organization to achieve its desired outcomes.
  • IT service: provides IT capabilities that support and deliver business and customer services.

It is necessary to define and understand what a service is but also it is necessary to decompose services into their various components or layers in order to better understand the service end-to-end. This will help to:

•   Build accurate service maps piece by piece.

•   Price and cost services more accurately.

•   Report on services at different levels.

•   Utilize the different parts of the service catalog effectively.

• Develop a clearer picture of what it is that IT does in support of the business, from the most obvious to the most obscure.

•   Understand how the organization actually relies on IT to do business.

It is essential for organizations to state clearly how they define services within the context of their organization. This includes the definition of the service and the service model i.e. how the different services map together. Failing to correctly define services can lead to a service catalog that is ineffective and provides no real value to any part of the organization. If services are not defined with the relevant audience in mind, they will not be understood so how could they be viewed as being strategically important to the organization or necessary to the user or customer?

In chapter two of my book – The Service Catalog – there are six additional definitions of what is a service taken from leading industry best-practice frameworks, bodies of knowledge and standards.


Movember, Movember; what a month to remember.

Well it is finally over. A month of growing a moustache in aid of cancer, focusing on raising funds to raise awareenss of prostate cancer. I am proud to have taken part this year. Our team has collected over €3,300 throughout the month and finish in the top 50 teams in Ireland.

Well done to all my team mates. However a big thank you goes to the starts of the campaign – all of you who donated whatever you could to this terrific cause. You all are the true stars of Movember – so thank you all again for your kind donations.

FUrther information on Movember and how it helps promote prostate cancer awareness can be found at the following location:http://ie.movember.com/