Service catalog provides a central source of information on the services delivered by the service provider It is the only part of service portfolio published to customers It supports sale and delivery of IT services catalog is useful in developing solutions from one or more services.
This tutorial explores how the process of service catalog management contributes to SOA practices and more. And by the end of this ‘Service catalog Management’ tutorial, you will be able to:
- Understand the complete overview of the objectives, scope and of the importance of service catalog management as an interface to the service portfolio, as well as of the difference between a business and a technical service catalog.
- Explore the Service catalog management policies, principles, concepts, activities, methods, and techniques in relation to SOA.
- Review the efficient use of service catalog management metrics.
What is Service Catalog
Service Catalog is a tool for service portfolio management decisions. It identifies the linkage between service assets, services, and business outcomes It also identifies the demand for a service and shows how the service provider will fulfill the demand.
Now, we will learn the purpose of the service catalog management process.
Purpose and Objectives of Service Catalog Management
The purpose of the service catalog management process is to provide and maintain a single source of consistent information on all operational services and those being prepared to be run operationally and to ensure that it is widely available to those who are authorized to access it. The objective of the service catalog management process are to:
- Manage the information contained in the service catalog
- Ensure that the service catalog is accurate and reflects the current details, status, interfaces, and dependencies of all services that are being run, or being prepared to run, in the live environment, according to the defined policies
- Ensure that the service catalog is made available to those approved to access it in a manner that supports their effective and efficient use of service catalog information
- Ensure that the service catalog supports the evolving needs of all other service management processes for service catalog information, including all interface and dependency information.
Scope of Service Catalog Management
The scope of the service catalog management process is to provide and maintain accurate information on all services that are being transitioned or have been transitioned to the live environment. The services presented in the service catalog may be listed individually or, more typically, some or all of the services may be presented in the form of service packages. The service catalog management process covers:
- Contribution to the definition of services and service packages
- Development and maintenance of service and service package descriptions appropriate for the service catalog
- Production and maintenance of an accurate service catalog Interfaces, dependencies, and consistency between the service catalog and the overall service portfolio
- Interfaces and dependencies between all services and supporting services within the service catalog and the CMS
- Interfaces and dependencies between all services, and supporting components and configuration items (CIs) within the service catalog and the CMS.
The service catalog management process does not include:
- Detailed attention to the capturing, maintenance and use of service asset and configuration data as performed through the service asset and configuration management process.
- Detailed attention to the capturing, maintenance and fulfillment of service requests as performed through request fulfillment.
Value to the Business
The service catalog provides a central source of information on the IT services delivered by the service provider organization. This ensures that all areas of the business can view an accurate, consistent picture of the IT services, their details and their status. It includes a customer-facing view (or views) of the IT services in use, how they are intended to be used, the business processes they enable, and the levels and quality of service the customer can expect for each service. Through the work of service catalog management, organizations can:
- Ensure a common understanding of IT services and improved relationships between the customer and service provider by utilizing the service catalog as a marketing and communication tool
- Improve service provider focus on customer outcomes by correlating internal service provider activities and service assets to business processes and outcomes
- Improve efficiency and effectiveness of other service management processes by leveraging the information contained in or connected to the service catalog Improve knowledge, alignment and focus on the ‘business value’ of each service throughout the service provider organization and its activities.
Let us know more about the Service catalog in the next section and find what the aspects of the Service catalog are.
Types of Service Catalog
The structure and presentation of the service catalog should support the uses, to which it will be put, taking into consideration the different, sometimes conflicting needs of different audiences. Not every service is of interest to every person or group. Not every piece of information about a service is of interest to every person or group.
When service providers have many customers or serve many businesses, there may be multiple service catalog views projected from the service portfolio. When initially completed, the service catalog may consist of a matrix, table or spreadsheet. Many organizations integrate and maintain their service portfolio and service catalog as part of their CMS.
By defining each service as a CI and, where appropriate, relating these to form a service hierarchy, the organization is able to relate such things as incidents and requests for change to the services affected, thus providing the basis for service monitoring and reporting using an integrated tool (e.g. ‘list or give the number of incidents affecting this particular service’).
It is therefore essential that changes within the service portfolio and its constituent service catalog are subject to the change management process. It is advisable to present more than one view of the information in the service catalog to accommodate the different needs of those who will use it.
In order to ensure that both the customer and IT have a clear understanding of the relationship between the outcome-based, customer-facing services and the business processes they support, it is recommended that a service provider, at the minimum, defines two different views, each one focusing on one type of service:
- a view for customers that shows the customer-facing services,
- a second view for the IT service provider showing all the supporting services.
The data stored in the service catalog regarding relationships and dependencies between items would allow information in one view to be accessed from another when deemed appropriate. Service catalog has two views.
- Business/ Customer Service catalog view and
- Technical Service catalog view.
The Business/Customer Service Catalog View:
This contains details of all the IT services delivered to the customers (customer-facing services), together with relationships to the business units and the business processes that rely on the IT services. This is the customer view of the service catalog. In other words, this is the service catalog for the business to see and use.
The Technical/Supporting Service Catalog View
This contains details of all the supporting IT services, together with relationships to the customer-facing services they underpin and the components, CIs and other supporting services necessary to support the provision of the service to the customers.
Some organizations only maintain either a Business Service catalog or a Technical Service catalog. The preferred situation adopted by the more mature organizations maintains both aspects within a single Service catalog, which is part of a totally integrated Service Management activity and Service Portfolio.
The Business Service catalog facilitates the development of a much more proactive or even pre-emptive SLM process, allowing it to develop more into the field of Business Service Management.
The Technical Service catalog is extremely beneficial when constructing the relationship between services, SLAs, OLAs and other underpinning agreements and components, as it will identify the technology required to support service and the support group(s) that support the components.
The combination of a Business Service catalog and a Technical Service catalog is invaluable for quickly assessing the impact of incidents and changes in the business.
In the next section, we will understand the key activities within the Service Catalog Management process.
The key activities within the service catalog management process should include:
- Agreeing and documenting a service definition and description for each service with all relevant parties Interfacing with service portfolio management to agree the contents of the service portfolio and service catalog
- Producing and maintaining an accurate service catalog and its contents, in conjunction with the overall service portfolio
- Interfacing with the business and ITSCM on the dependencies of business units and their business processes with the customer-facing IT services contained within the service catalog
- Interfacing with support teams, suppliers and service asset and configuration management on interfaces and dependencies between IT services and the supporting services, components and CIs contained within the service catalog
- Interfacing with business relationship management and SLM to ensure that the information is aligned with the business and business process.
Triggers, Inputs, and Outputs related to Service Catalog Management
The triggers, input, and output related to Service Catalog Management are discussed below:
The triggers for the service catalog management process are changes in the business requirements and services, and therefore one of the main triggers is RFCs and the change management process. This will include new services, changes to existing services or services being retired.
Some sources of information are relevant to the service catalog management process. These include:
- Business information from the organization’s business and IT strategy, plans and financial plans, and information on their current and future requirements from the service portfolio
- BIA, providing information on the impact, priority, and risk associated with each service or changes to service requirements
- Business requirements: details of any agreed, new or changed business requirements from the service portfolio
- The service portfolio and all related data and documents
- The CMS
- RFCs Feedback from all other processes.
The process outputs of the service catalog management process are:
- The documentation and agreement of a ‘definition of the service.’
- Updates to the service portfolio: should contain the current status of all services and requirements for services
- Updates to RFCs
- The service catalog: should contain the details and the current status of every live service provided by the service provider or service being transitioned into the live environment, together with the interfaces and dependencies.
In the next section, we will know what the key information within the service catalog management process is and find different approaches to managing service catalog information.
The key information within the service catalog management process is that which is contained within the service catalog. The main input for this information comes from the service portfolio and the business via either the business relationship management or SLM processes. This information needs to be verified for accuracy before being recorded in the service catalog.
The information and the service catalog itself need to be maintained using the change management process. There are many different approaches to managing service catalog information including:
- Intranet solutions built by the service provider organization leveraging technology already in place
- Commercially available solutions designed for service catalog management Solutions that are part of a more comprehensive service management suite.
- The service catalog data may be held in a single repository or multiple repositories.
- Some service providers may maintain the data that supports different views of the service catalog in different locations or toolsets. For example, detailed data for supporting services may be stored in the CMS and presented via the same interface used to access other service asset and configuration data, while data on customer-facing services may be in a browser-based application and presented to customers via the corporate intranet.
When constructing different views of the service catalog, the service provider should consider which services (rows of data) and which data elements or fields (columns of data) should be included in each view. For example, while details of relationships of support services may be important to include in a view intended for staff members of the service provider, these details are typical of no interest to customers and would be excluded from a customer-facing view.
Integration with the service portfolio is critical here, as is the ability to access other closely related functionality, such as customers being able to view their service level agreement monitoring reports or to access a self-help portal for service requests. Some commercially available ‘service catalog’ tools are maturing to offer management of the full-service portfolio, from proposal through to retirement.
Each organization should consider carefully what solution will best serve it's current and future needs. It is important, however, not to confuse the toolset used to present the service catalog with the catalog itself. An organization with a paper catalog and an organization with a robust technical solution both still have a service catalog.
Let us learn the main Critical Success Factors and the two main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), associated with the Service catalog and its management.
Critical Success Factors and KPIs
The main Critical Success Factors are:
- An accurate Service catalog
- Business users’ awareness of the services being provided
The two main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) associated with the Service catalog and its management are:
- The number of services recorded and managed as a percentage of those being delivered and transitioned in the live environment
- The number of variances detected between the information contained within the Service catalog and the ‘real-world’ situation
Let us understand the major challenges and the risks associated with the provision of an accurate service catalog in the next section.
Challenges and Risks
Let us look into the challenges and risks involved in Service Catalog Management below:
The major challenge facing service catalog management is that of
- maintaining an accurate service catalog as part of a service portfolio
- incorporating all catalog views as part of an overall CMS and SKMS.
One approach may be to develop stand-alone spreadsheets or databases before trying to integrate the service catalog and service portfolio within the CMS or SKMS. In order to achieve this, the culture of the organization needs to accept that the catalog and portfolio are essential sources of information that everyone within the IT organization needs to use and help maintain.
This will often assist in the standardization of the service catalog and the service portfolio and enable an improvement in cost performance through economies of scale.
The risks associated with the provision of an accurate service catalog are:
- The inaccuracy of the data in the catalog and it not being under rigorous change control
- Poor acceptance of the service catalog and its usage in all operational processes. The more active the catalog is, the more likely it is to be accurate in its content Inaccuracy of information received from the business, IT and the service portfolio, with regard to service information
- Insufficient tools and resources required to maintain the information
- Poor access to accurate change management information and processes
- Poor access to and support of appropriate and up-to-date CMS and SKMS for integration with the service catalog
- Circumvention of the use of the service portfolio and service catalog
- The information is either too detailed to maintain accurately or at too high a level to be of any value. It should be consistent with the level of detail within the CMS and the SKMS.
Production of Service Catalog
The key points of maintaining a service catalog include:
- It should preferably be stored as a set of ‘service’ CIs within a CMS, maintained under Change Management.
- It should be available to anyone within the organization.
- Every new service should be entered into the Service catalog once its initial definition of requirements has been documented and agreed.
- The Service catalog should record the status of every service, through the stages of its defined lifecycle.
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