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The Full-Service “Information Services (aka IT) Catalogue”

Posted by Laurie Dolan on Nov 21, 2011 9:32:44 AM

It continues to baffle me that many IT organizations continue to have difficulty understanding and defining the business processes and services they deliver, manage and support; but then I am reminded that many IT’ers have just that: a focus on technology and a perspective of services from this viewpoint. The Information Service Management organization is still evolving to include business customer- and service-minded professionals as well as technology-minded professionals (but that is another topic).

Through experience, a few tips on designing a Service Catalogue and defining services are offered as follows.

When starting to plan and design a Service Catalogue, start from the premise that it is primarily an Information Services Catalogue of business services provided and supported; service offerings which can be requested and delivered; information about new services and offerings; frequently asked questions; instructions – e.g. how to reset a password, how to reduce charges by reducing email storage requirements; and general information about IT.

The Service Catalogue can have three views:

  • One to business management of the services they use and subscribe to, the features and the cost for financial and service requirement planning.
  • One to users who can order service offerings for on-boarding new employees, enhancing service functionality and adding to service functionality.
  • One to IT of the services they use, provide and request with a direct link to the Configuration Management Database.

Examples of the main categories (which can include supported services and service offerings) are:

  • Business services – specific to one or more internal business customers.
  • Core or enterprise services – used by most or all of the organization, e.g., email and calendaring, printing, conferencing services.
  • Professional services (are subscribed to or consumed as part of projects and service planning, delivery and support, e.g., project management, security, support, service management).

Once the plan, approach and basic design of the catalogue, views and the categories are in place, the fun begins – defining the services. Begin with the business processes and services found in all organizations: the corporate administration and executive management offices; the support business departments such as Human Resources, Legal, Finance and Facilities; and the front office sales, marketing and customer call centre groups. Then identify the external facing business processes and services.

A great way to get to know and understand the organization, as well as to prepare to identify these business processes and services, is to start with a look at the business organization’s website – their customer “Service Catalogue.” The organization’s website outlines the services they provide and support, the services that can be requested (shopping cart), general information about the organization and people, and who to contact for support or information. Another excellent service information source is an organizational chart of the business structure – high-level business processes can be identified by the business unit and departments e.g. Financial Services: Accounts Payable Service, Accounts Receivable Service, and General Ledger.

IT departments or groups generally like to start with their internal technical IT Services which would be in the Service Catalogue’s IT view (including IT groups such as Application Development which might be part of the business unit). They also typically have a lengthy list of applications and systems which they might consider as their “Business Services.” Caution: Starting with a list of applications and systems can be overwhelming and bring the service definition workshops to a grinding halt.

Be prepared with an overview of the Business structure and processes, and ensure there is Service Desk representation in the service definition workshop. A Service Desk representative is a valuable contributor to these workshops as they bring the business user perspective of what the business user calls the service or system they use to do their job. With this business process information at hand, the discussion with IT about how the applications fit into the business processes or services is more manageable. Confirming the Business Service names make sense to the Business user becomes easier as business terminology is used and it demonstrates an understanding of the business processes.

Two examples come to mind when aligning the Business process / service view with the IT applications and systems view. The discussions started with what the business unit does; what they have on their “computer” to access the service or system, e.g., what they call it, what they do, and what the underlying applications or systems are that they need to do their job.

Example 1: US Bank, Car Dealer Sales (the business unit)

  • Business Process (what does the business unit do?): Process indirect loan applications and approval.
  • Business Service (what is it called?): CARL – Car Loan Application and Reporting (renamed for the purpose of this example).
  • Business Service composition (what do they do?) – Note each CARL process element or sub-service was dependent on the output of the preceding sub-service and had associated applications and hardware: Credit Application, Credit Check (through Credit Bureau links), Credit Decision, Pricing, Drafting & Funding, Auto Check (Lease or Loan), User Interface (Bridge Service, Reference Service), Credit Adapter and Reporting.

Example 2: Pharmacy

  • Business Process: Check, fill and dispense prescriptions.
  • Business Service: Prescription-filling (The Service adopted the main system name which differed in some provinces).
  • Business Service composition (again includes various systems and applications): Record Information (customer / patient, doctor and prescription), Check Prescription (including other prescriptions for the customer), Dispense, Print Information (labels and prescription information), Update Inventory, Notification (to health organizations, as required), and Reporting.

In summary, “underneath the covers,” Business Services are a complex configuration of systems, applications, hardware components and internal and external service providers; but, to the business user, they are an automated “system” to enable them to do their job more effectively and efficiently. The Service Catalogue should reflect their services in an easy and comprehensible way.


Topics: Service Management

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