Closing the communication gap between IT and business with an IT service catalog

Guest post by

Vadim Gordadze

Vice Head of ITSM Department

I-teco Bussiness Consulting

 

The world is changing (it seems to do that). This is not a new phenomenon. In the past few years, the rules have changed for business. It has become obvious that strong IT can support the business' need for making more profit. IT is now viewed as more than just guys who come and repair PC’s when something is not working. Instead it is viewed as a vital link to the future of where the business wants to be.  Business and IT cannot be separated from each other if company wants to be successful—and people are realizing this.

 

bridge the gap puzzle IT service catalog.pngUnderstanding this connection between business and IT is the key to future success. Businesses that are supported by automated systems and good technics are usually ahead of the business. This is proof of the value of cooperation (utilization) with IT.

 

But it is not just business that needs to align with IT. The cooperation goes both ways.  IT is beneficial for the IT department to position themselves properly for the business.

 

Cooperation is mutually beneficial

 

From my point of view, the main step to IT showing its value to the business was the formation of IT service catalogs. By exposing these catalogs to the customer, IT managed to show what they really were doing for the business, without getting too deep inside of the service structure. Service catalogs were reshaped to focus on the business critical services and those that give the most value. There are many articles that discuss the creation of service catalogs, so today I will only speak about how these catalogs have changed the ITSM world and the relationship between IT and business.

 

As a result of service catalogs, it is now possible for conversations between IT and business to be held on the service level, where the value is obvious for business, and IT was able to approve budgets with business justification. This allows for proper budget planning to move in step with technologies. And as a result, the most recent technology can show value to the business.

 

The hottest topic in ITSM

 

Inevitably this service approach and the IT service catalog became permanent conversation topics on forums, seminars and ITSM symposiums. As a result, it has become almost a trend to have a service catalog in the company. As an implementer, I am frequently talking to customers involved in presales and other activities about the latest in ITSM.

 

Before the popularization of the service catalog, the base (main) requirements were to get in a first row Service Desk, Incident Management, Configuration Management and sometimes Change Management. Now IT service catalogs are a “must have” even for companies with very small IT departments.

 

Everyone wants to shift the perception of IT from simply the “guys who repair PC’s” to the department that provides services to the business. The utilization of these services to the business units should be counted so they can properly make accounting allowances. This way they can be charged later and so they can make justification of future budget needs. I have met with customers who have an IT team with fewer than 10 people who thought that having a Service Catalog is a top priority for them, simply because they want to show the value of IT to the business.

 

As you can see there has been a shift in IT and business relations and the IT service catalog is key to this relationship.

As I said, everything is changing and now the companies at the front positions are jumping to mobility, cloud services and big data. This is creating a demand for businesses to move all applications to mobile devices and tablets. This is rapidly increasing with the need to have services available in the cloud to access them from different places. Last but not least, there is an increase in data volume, requiring IT technicians to improve the operation time with the abilities found within big data.

 

From my point of view, the evolution roadmap of ITSM in the future is moving more and more applications to mobility (with the respective SLA for the services), keeping systems in the cloud and the implementation of the technics and applications which can easily handle any operation with big data.

Comments
| ‎08-07-2014 12:30 AM

Hi Vadim

We have been using the service Catalog for just over a year now and its made a massive change to the way IT and the Business communcate.

The catalog has enabled users to have much greater visibility over their requests and to be able to communicate with teh person dealing with it without having to pick up the phone and ask whos working on it.

 

tonyprice | ‎08-13-2014 02:15 AM

Vadim

 

Thank you for this and I largely agree with what you are saying.  

 

I work for HP a World Wide Consulting division of HP Software Professional Services and as a result get to meet many different clients across all industry sectors.   Interestingly what I am now seeing is a slightly negative effect of IT Service catalogues as we see more and more “catalogue sprawl”.

 

What do I mean by “Catalogue Sprawl”?   Well as you say it’s become a must have to create an IT Service Catalogue.  If you are a small IT organisation it is relatively simple to keep control of your catalogue.  But in global multinational companies with global IT I am seeing multiple IT catalogue appearing across IT.  This situation is then further compounded when business catalogues are added to the mix, for example when HR add their own catalogues.

When this situation occurs IT customers / consumers become confused as they don’t know which catalogue to go to and the impact is poor service (compounded further with business catalogues) – exactly what we were originally trying to address when we set out to build IT Service Catalogue and hence this has to an extent started to backfire on IT.

 

Also when is a catalogue a catalogue and do we really care?  What I am trying to explain here is we may create things that in IT we do not view as a catalogue, the IT Service Desk for example.  However to the IT customer/ consumer this is another point of service.  So just like an IT Catalogue it is yet another place they have to go to if they want service from IT.  They don’t care that we do not think of it as a catalogue….. and this then raises the point should we?  Or should we be thinking more about how we simplify the total experience of interfacing into IT and how we radically improve IT customer / consumer satisfaction. 

If we take this approach we almost certainly will look at the IT Value Chains and how we can simplify the interface to them i.e.

 

  1.       I have something broken and want it fixed – the detect to correct value chain
  2.       I want something from your catalogue provided to me – the request to fulfil value chain
  3.       I have a new requirement that I want deploying – the requirements to deploy value chain
  4.       I want something that I have never asked for in the past as part of your standard offer in the future – the Strategy to Portfolio Value chain

If we can address all of the above via a single point of access to IT customer service / customer satisfaction will radically increase.

 

Now is we took a traditional approach to addressing this challenge we would no doubt create a massive programme where we try to consolidate all the catalogues and entry points into IT and this would be extremely expensive and very time consuming.   Because of our thirst to simplify and help IT customers/ consumers you can guarantee while we are doing this other “catalogs” will appear and the sprawl will continue.  So then your big programme is doomed as it will either not address the overall challenge or will continually have scope creep.  Hence you need an approach that allows you to contain the sprawl and gain control rapidly.

 

As mentioned I am a HP employee and our solution to this challenge is HP Propel http://www8.hp.com/uk/en/software-solutions/propel-IT-service-catalog/

 

I personally think this is an area where we will see significantly more focus in the future.  If we can simplify the interface into IT, build a great customer experience, we then have the opportunity to apply analytics and a big data approach to really understand the IT Customers / Consumers and predict their requirements rather than just react to them.  This will enable IT to become the true integrated service provider or even one step further – a fully integrated component of the overall business delivery.

 

Thank your for this and the thoughts you have stimulated.

dkalian | ‎08-14-2014 06:49 AM

Hi Vadim,

What Service Catalog products have you implemented on mobile devices?  We use the SRC and it's dependence upon Adobe Flash limits its use on tablets and phones.  For example iPad users have to have a virtual machine running in the datacenter for access.

Mark Laird | ‎08-14-2014 11:27 PM

Interesting post. I think there also needs to be a way for the business to influence and add to the IT Service Catalog content.

Frank Carsten Eck | ‎08-15-2014 02:57 AM
Hello Vadim,

 

I have not much doubts about what you wrote. The only thing that worries me is the time to market, ITIL and the ITSM implementation is a big framework and big things are apparantly moving slow.

 

So my main challenge is to turn a tractor into a formula 1 cart.

 

Or in your terms, having a service request modul is a important part of the story, but it's as important as having the automation for fullfillment, automated CI maintenance and the automated billing record creation for invoicing in mind (and sure some more which I have not mentioned)

 

Or let's call it simple, we need to have a consistent E2E view on the entire tool, process and reality chain.

 

BR,


Frank

 

Roman Naumov | ‎08-15-2014 06:24 AM

I absolutely agree with Vadim, one of the first and major step today with which to start the systematization of IT is not just the implementation of the operational processes, as well as the creation of a catalog of IT services.
And let it is imperfect, it is an important step towards

Today IT is aware of this. And it is natural. This evolution.

cmacmillan | ‎08-15-2014 08:32 AM

While the IT/OT and to some extent the convergence of business and I/T has been discussed for some time, part of the issue is the ability of the tools to appeal to a larger audience while retaining the funcational prowess.

 

It appears that the tools to converge a catalog are either a) unfriendly to the end user while retaining powerful capabilities or b) friendly to the end user at the expense of capability.

 

Before we can realize the business-as-part-of-the-catalog we have to realize that we need a simplified shopping cart with powerful back-end abilities.

| ‎08-17-2014 03:25 AM

Thank you for the input Vadim.

 

There is no question that Service Catalogs are important. And increasingly so. However the first item in the catalog is still often "Support Request".  The first line service desk, incident managment and change management is still equally important. Luckily HP has software that provides the service catalog very integrated with the processes.

Also the business seems to want "all" service offerings to be consolidated into one service catalog. Even if the services are provided by LOB or centralized departments - IT or other. I'm really looking forward to seeing what HP Propel can do to address this in the coming months.

Honored Contributor | ‎08-18-2014 05:31 AM

Hello,

Thank you all for comments!

 

@ Alex - My last years experience is from an implementer side, but I have worked at the customer side as well and I remember the tough way, when we were implementing Service catalog in our company. It was hard at start, but the way IT was interacting with users was significantly improved at the time perspective.

 

@ Mark - Actually this is a 2 player game. Service Catalog would have been useless if not influenced by the business. If the Service Consumer does not need services offered by the Service Catalog, such catalog will have no value for  IT. Service Catalog must include services which will be consumed by the business so here is the point where business can influence the content of catalog.

Philip Randles | ‎08-21-2014 01:53 AM

Service Catalogues are a powerful tool of engagement. This has to be two way, and cover all services, not just the traditional IT Services, but all services that the employers use.

Maintaing a useable structure in such an enterprise can be challenging so a great deal of thought and planning needs to be done with all stakeholders.

tsenneset | ‎08-22-2014 07:06 AM

@vadim: Toughest part of a two player game is when the other part does not want to play...

Honored Contributor ‎08-24-2014 11:36 PM - edited ‎08-24-2014 11:38 PM

Hello all,

 

@ Tony - we had similar discussion on LinkedIn :). HP Propel should be really good tool for companies who have spread there IT functions, Support systems, Catalogs and rest staff in different ways. Should be a good roof for all that product mess inside the IT.

 

@ Henrik - actually HP has chosen that way as well. SRC in HP Service Manager was shaped for automation of Support Requests right in step with rest Service Catalog.

| ‎08-26-2014 11:19 AM

we have not yet made the transition. We have Incident, Change, and Problem implemented, but service catalog has not yet been seen as a priority. It will be interesting to see what cultural changes will need to take place for it to be used here. Like any other repository of information, maintaining a service catalog requires a team to dedicate time to maintaining the information in the catalog, or it will be found to be a less than helpful resource.

Philip Randles | ‎08-27-2014 03:58 AM

Service Catalogues are a powerful tool of engagement. This has to be two way, and cover all services, not just the traditional IT Services, but all services that the employers use.

Maintaing a useable structure in such an enterprise can be challenging so a great deal of thought and planning needs to be done with all stakeholders.

dblackeby | ‎08-27-2014 04:11 AM

One of the key considerations moving forwards is the proliforation of multiple IT service catalogues, and the need to consolidate the request and management of IT services into a single point of entry.  Similar to the drive for SPOC concept for service desks historically

 

If you consider the situation many organisations face today, with internal IT service catalogues, external providers also providing management portals either by request, or because its the only way to consume the service (e.g. Amazon AWS, telecom providers, other 3rd parties), there is a fragmentation of which site to visite depending on the service required.

 

IT Service portals need to also grow and become more than a mechanism for transactional requests from an IT service catalogue (add / remove a service) to manage the entire lifecycle of IT service provision, including consumption, demand management, operational management, service monitoring, and chargeback.

Honored Contributor | ‎08-29-2014 04:16 AM

@ Iwvirden - I think that you still should have a list of services (even though it is not a whole Service Catalog) which you understand how and to whom you provide, otherwise can you briefly explain - how, for example, is your incidents process built. For sure you will have to keep a catalogue up to date otherwise it will be useless, but it does not seem to me that you will hav to keep a separate staf for this task..

 

@ Philip - I am sure that worldwide are examples of such catalogs (including all services that consume employess), but from my personal experience the maximal achievement of company was puttin in the one catalogue IT Service catalogue some categories for HR, Procurement and fininancial functions.

 To keep every service provided to employee in one catalog, company must be at a very high level of maturity.

 

@dblackeby - I have not seen one tool, which was handling the whole lifecycle, but this is achevable with a set of systems, each carrying its own functionality. I am not sure that joining of Company service catalogue with for example Amazon (if I understood you correctly) will be the proper step. Yuo won't be able to control  the content of the Amazon, while you can expose some services in your own catalogue with backend understanding that they will be fullfilledby Amazon purchase.

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