August 2, 2018

Service Catalog Design

  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Improved resource allocation
  • Reduced IT service delivery time
  • Simplified and improved service delivery processes
  • Reduced overall service costs
  • Improved communication and collaboration

Developing a service catalog may sound simple, but in order to encourage customer engagement and set proper expectations, it helps to consider the following tips to make it work:

1) Identify the services your business needs in order to operate

Developing a service catalog is an exercise in good communication. Know your company and learn about its wants and needs. Business unit managers and other decision makers should work with both end users and stakeholders to determine what they need to perform their jobs. Differentiate between the services that your service desk and other IT teams currently provide and what may be missing. Are they essential and, more importantly, do they align with company goals?

2) Define security and access permissions

Who will have access to the service catalog and specific services? Restricting access to the service catalog or specific services is important. You may want to allow end-users to request a keyboard or mouse, but limit items with a higher price tag, such as laptops or tablets, to management.

3) Simplify the search process

Categorize services with your end user in mind. Simplify whenever possible and keep technical jargon to a minimum. For example, would a business user know to look under ‘infrastructure’ for backup services, or should ‘backup’ be front and center? Think about the intuitiveness of Amazon categorization. Confusion creates dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction will defeat the purpose of your service catalog.

4) Optimize the user experience

Make the user experience a friendly one with an easy-to-access, simple-to-navigate IT self-service portal that contains all of the services that they will need to do their job.

5) Roll out in phases

Test a representative portion of your user pool with a small selection of services. Find out what works and what doesn’t.  Solve the “glitches” and slowly increase the user base and offerings within your catalog.

6) Invest in automation

Once you feel confident in the design of your service catalog and processes that support it, select a software product that best manages your company’s specific service needs – and automate delivery whenever possible.

Don’t quit after you create and release your service catalog. It is equally important to continually measure and improve your service catalog by removing unnecessary or unused services and adding new services. Review your processes and learn from both your successes and failures. And, most importantly, be sure to share your successes with both business stakeholders and management.

Consider metrics such as:

  • The number of people accessing your catalog
  • The least and most accessed services
  • The number of requests associated with services
  • Costs associated with a service
  • Service level metrics (Did you meet, exceed or breach service level agreements [SLAs]?)
  • Problem and incident resolution time (Has it increased or decreased?)
  • Mean time to resolve by service

Each of these metrics helps define the effectiveness of your service catalog.


There are “do’s and don’ts” to consider when implementing any ITIL process. You can achieve success when creating your service catalog by avoiding some of the most common mistakes:

  • Don’t use tech-talk to describe services. Avoid technical language, and keep details simple to ensure your customers know what to expect.
  • Don’t limit services to what you THINK your customers need. Offer the services that your customers are looking for to do their job.
  • Don’t set access boundaries for internal office staff. Make sure the catalog is available anytime, anywhere.
  • Don’t respond and deliver when you feel like it. Be responsive to the needs of your customers, make SLA commitments, and keep them.
  • Don’t stop communicating after a request is received. Provide your customers with a timeline for service delivery, and keep them apprised of status throughout the process.

Finally, consider integrations with related IT support applications, IT asset management systems, human resource management solutions, a CMDB, and financial solutions. As customer demands on IT continue to escalate, key shortcomings in IT service delivery practices become readily apparent. Automating the delivery of IT services is acknowledged to be the wave of the future, as business and technology are inextricably linked.  Implementing agile, mobile, adaptable, and user-friendly capabilities within your service catalog will be an integral part of your company’s success.