Jul032017

A service catalogue is of limited value if it serves IT and not the customer.  Ron van Haasteren of TOPdesk explains how to keep the customer at the forefront of your thinking.

For many IT teams, a service catalogue is a common first step to take to go beyond being a simple ‘break-fix’ service desk.

This is because it is one of the most customer-centric changes you can make to your services, especially if your current state is relatively reactive. A service catalogue provides both IT and the customer an accurate view of what IT really owns and offers.

Ron van Haasteren, TOPdesk

But a common mistake made in service catalogue implementations is to forget where it really sits in the ITIL® lifecycle. Service catalogue management is a ‘Service Design’ process, which often suggests it links quite closely to Service Level Management (SLM) and Service Operations (Service desk, request fulfilment etc.). And it’s true: managing your service catalogue is a design and operations task.

However, actually starting your catalogue is introduced during the adoption of a service portfolio, which sits in the service strategy lifecycle. This essentially makes your first step to gaining a service catalogue a strategic one. You should not see your service catalogue as something you ‘plug-in’ to your services to suddenly make them more accessible.

In practical terms, this means not just jumping into the service catalogue. Go back and revisit the service strategy guidance, map out how and where the services you offer link to solving business problems and creating value. This will inform your next practical step, which is to decide the hierarchy of your services from the customers’ perspective.

What do customers want from a service catalogue?
At a very basic level, customers want to see the introduction of a service catalogue as a new way to get their IT issues and queries resolved faster and with minimal effort. This vital concept should guide almost everything you do while designing your catalogue. A common mistake made by IT is putting information or steps into the customer view of their catalogue, with the intention of making life easier for IT.

This almost always feels like the right thing to do at the time: it’s often presented as a great idea that makes your day that little bit easier. But you must always consider whether this ends up making the customer work harder to get what they want. The truth is that when IT creates greater simplicity for themselves, this frequently creates more complexity for the customer – and like it or not, customer complexity inevitability end ups creating great difficulty for IT somewhere else in the supply chain.

So if you want to make life easier for IT in the long run, ensure every decision you make about the implementation of a service catalogue is directly driven by your answer to the question “Does this make it quicker and easy for the customer to get what they want?” You might be surprised by how many times the answer to this questions turns out to be “No!”

What should a good service catalogue do for IT?
We know what your customers want, but what about IT? It should make life easier for them too right? Yes, it absolutely should! But instead of seeing the service catalogue as a way just to help IT spend less time fixing the basic issues that customers can do themselves, encourage them to see the catalogue as a way to speed up the way they deal with common queries and questions that they do end up dealing with.

On your service desk you may have a knowledge base, which also sits within your self-service portal serving as a quick way of overcoming known problems within your IT environment. What your knowledge base won’t cover is detailed information about how your processes work, or what services or tools you have to offer.

A good service catalogue will put that information at a service desk analyst’s fingertips. This is important because this is actually quite complex information, and for most IT teams it is rarely well-documented or kept up-to-date. But the more readily available and accessible and useful you make that documentation, the more motivated your IT staff will be to keep it fresh. This relates to the Shift Left concept.

The self service portal
We can equally apply this scenario to the use of self-service portal. Many IT service teams now configure logic into their self-service portals and service catalogues so that requests like this can be easily automated. For example, the customer can quickly find the answer they need in a knowledge article about how to edit PDFs.

The knowledge article could then link to a location in the service catalogue where they can instantly download and install the new PDF editor themselves. The approval for any cost and licencing required can also all be managed on the customer side, through the configuration of the service catalogue and self-service Portal.

What should you do next?
If you’re still reading, it’s probably because you’re in one of two positions: you either have a service catalogue but it is not getting you the results you had hoped it would, or you haven’t implemented a service catalogue and you want to find out how.

Regardless of which it is, before you change anything invest time in understanding the Why. Our advice is go back to your service strategy, look at what your business really need from IT and begin mapping out how you can use a service catalogue to demonstrate what services and products IT can offer to meet those needs.

For more info on all things service related, you can check out our Customer Centricity E-book.

Ron van Haasteren is international marketer for TOPdesk.

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