Let’s check out the menu and the day’s specials. One of the first things people will do when they sit down in a restaurant. People use the menu and the signs on the wall as the starting point. Only few restaurants don’t underestimate the importance of presenting the dishes in an understandable and appealing way to their target group. And those that underestimate its significance are often out of business before they know it.
The menu is used as the tool to present the available choices in a language that seduces and is understood at the same time. Next to this all items are priced and segmented into understandable sections as starters, main dishes and desserts. Restaurants use it to keep their service aligned with the needs of their customers.
Now, what does all this have to do with service management? Quite a lot, actually. The Service Catalog is the ITSM equivalent of a menu in a restaurant. However, whereas restaurants adopted service oriented thinking long ago and use the menu as a way to organize not only their external offerings but also their internal way of working, the Service Catalog is still often much like the neglected child of Service Management:
Many companies have either nothing formal in place or have developed something from a hardcore IT perspective rather than taking into account the customer’s needs. The latter is the most common mistake made: Services are described in a way that is too technical and complex and does not tell customers what they are getting, how much they will have to pay for it and how obtain it.
That is a real shame because the Service Catalog in particular is one of the most powerful instruments service providers have in improving customer relations, creating business value and customer satisfaction by delivering services that make business sense.
Are we saying you need a Service Catalog? Yes, we do. We truly believe no future proof organization can do without. Does that mean putting effort defining one? Yes, but it is not that complicated and time consuming as it may sound and one does not have to have a fully defined Service Catalog to begin with. By taking the customer perspective, talking to your clients and translating your IT services into terminology that makes sense to the customer, relations with your customers will tighten and prosper and you can improve and enhance your catalog along the way.
Maintenance, reviews and periodic improvement to a catalog are essential, because your customer needs may evolve as your customer and its markets also change. So, don’t forget to appoint someone to attend this crucial task. Moreover, a well-defined Service Catalog may serve as a unique and consistent driver for organizing your internal IT organization, defining schedules and for your underpinning contracts with your suppliers.
Meanwhile, the observant reader will have noticed my analogy does not hold entirely true. The thing is that the person paying the bill in a restaurant is usually the person consuming the service, yet in Business to IT services that is mostly not the case. Also, when defining services in a restaurant setting, one should really be distinguishing between services such as à la carte dining, hosting private parties, meal deliveries and take-away food. Those represent truly different experiences to a customer. A menu in a restaurant is actually is much more like the Request Catalog (or Offering Catalog as some call it): A set of choices in the same service from which the consumer can make their selection, just like in IT.
Nonetheless, putting effort in constructing a Service Catalog will be a worthwhile investment, bringing results both internally and externally. So go ahead: Get rid of the old overview that did not ring a bell to your customer anyway, start your preparations on defining a real Service Catalog and become the Michelin 3 Stars’ equivalent amongst the IT service providers by making them an offer they can’t refuse! IBM Control Desk offers ready-to-go functionality for both the Service Catalog and Request Catalog which will help you in structuring your service delivery with a minimum of effort. Interested to learn more about the IBM Control Desk features and strengths? Or how to effectively combine it with your existing or planned IBM Maximo set-up. Contact us and we will ensure the menu is set up in the way you are requiring.
Maurice Muijsers – Lead Consultant / Project Manager