Kinetic Data Publication

Using Service Catalogs to Run a Business

Leveraging a service catalog delivers can benefit almost every part of an organization.

Using Service Catalogs to Run a Business

In many large organizations, the role of the IT function is poorly communicated and hence misunderstood. IT groups often view business users as overly demanding and under- appreciative, while users perceive IT as reactive and defensive. In recent years, frameworks such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) have emerged, promising to show IT how to run “like a business.” The proper implementation of service catalogs can go further, helping IT run as a business—through providing improved communication, giving business users easier access to IT services, and implementing measurement-driven continuous process improvement.

This paper provides guidelines for successful service catalog implementation and illustrates the benefits of service catalogs across functional areas.

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Service Catalog Trends

Using service catalogs to run IT as a business (not “like” a business)

In most large organizations, the employees who rely on IT to provide and support the myriad devices and software applications that help them do their jobs have only a minimal appreciation of how these devices and applications really work. Consequently, the IT department’s importance in keeping the organization running is seldom fully appreciated.

This state of affairs makes many IT departments reactive and defensive. Frequently, they avoid new projects instead of embracing the opportunity to leverage these projects for the organization’s overall advantage. The burdens placed on IT just to meet minimal business and employee productivity needs has often led to defining IT services less by what the IT department does than by what it doesn’t do.

In recent years, frameworks such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Capability Maturity Model (CMM) have promised to show IT organizations how to operate like a business, instead of as overhead-heavy service units within organizations that under-deliver and downplay their own capabilities. “Like a business” is a loaded phrase, however. It implies that while IT units may adopt the trappings of a real business—treating employees and internal constituents with the same types of service levels and guarantees the business provides to actual customers; following elaborate escalation procedures when service delivery efforts falter; etc.—the effort, by definition, is euphemistic. IT organizations become “like” businesses. They do everything a business does but are rarely held accountable to bottom-line business demands and rarely suffer the consequences of delivering poor service.

This situation is changing, however. As enterprises become ever-more dependent on IT, they are demanding that IT organizations operate not just like businesses, but as businesses. Services and their associated costs have to be more clearly defined (in commonly understood business terms), easier to order, and delivered in a way that is far more transparent to customers than the traditional “black hole” into which service requests once disappeared. The most basic and crucial services are especially subject to this new sense of urgency.

No longer are employees content to wait a week to get a desktop provisioned or gain access to a managed application such as Salesforce.com (which simply requires a license addition). IT will have to get faster and better at meeting business demands— but often without additional resources.

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