Forward-thinking IT organizations have embraced service catalogs for nearly a decade, as means to enable self-service and reap the attendant cost savings. Business users — whether remote or on-site — can request services from a standard set of IT offerings (e.g., password reset, new laptop, application access) and view the status of any previous request, all without a costly call to the help desk.
At a high level, service catalogs reduce the time and cost of delivering technical services while improving the user experience. These and the other benefits of service catalogs needn’t be limited to the IT provisioning of services however; an expanded view of the service catalog to encompass all shared services groups in the organization (e.g., HR, finance, facilities, etc.) extends the cost savings of service catalogs while also providing employees with a single, intuitive interface for requesting any type of enterprise service.
Back in 2013, Forrester Research published a white paper titled "Master the Service Catalog Solution Landscape in 2013" which identified a number of reasons for undertaking such a business service catalog effort, as well as the benefits to be gained from the initiative. Forrester continued to write about service catalogs in 2014 and 2015, and the topic remains hot, with more than one hundred articles published about service catalogs in just the past year.
Per Forrester’s research, business service catalogs:
Facilitate self-helpShifting service and support “to the left” (even to level 0) not only saves money, but in many cases accelerates issue resolution and creates a more positive user experience. Forrester notes the value of “implementing a self-service capability where business users can log their own incidents (and) check on the progress of those incidents.” This isn’t limited to IT support requests though; users should be able to check the status of any type of business service request online, and such self-service can lead to significant cost savings.
Centralize request management
A key benefit of this approach is “one-stop shopping” for business users; there’s no need to learn and use separate systems in order to request services from finance, IT, HT, facilities or other groups.
Simplify the user experience
Users don’t care what happens behind the scenes, they just want their request fulfilled.
Enable agile business processes
Everything starts with a request. Providing request and fulfillment capabilities for virtually any business service or product that employees need to do their jobs delivers a smart employee experience.
Support IT governance“End-to-end process governing and tracking the way assets enter and exist in the organization are essential to achieve the highest return on investment (ROI) for the lowest cost. One vendor stated that IT governance is imperative because you ‘must have a way to manage and document things,’ and service offerings within the service catalog are a means to do this.” Proper IT governance and risk management not only reduce costs but also support business growth.
Inspire business process improvementlook at current processes and encourages redesign based on the goal of a delighted (internal or external) customer.
Help standardize offerings & improve efficiency
Provide end-to-end visibility into the value chain
“When the service catalog is not just an accessible front end but also automated and integrated with a variety of IT processes…IT operations teams are able to monitor, manage, and report on requests from start to finish. A service request from a business user sets off a value chain that can be tracked within the entire IT organization, from the ‘storefront’ request initiation to product delivery or fulfillment.”
Indeed, a key element of the enterprise request management (ERM) strategy business process management is integrated analytics, which enable accurate costing, reporting on both quantitative (e.g., elapsed time) and qualitative (user satisfaction) metrics and continuous process improvement.
Reduce service costsForrester notes that globally, help ticket volumes are increasing–not only because of business growth, but also due to an increasingly mobile workforce. According to the original white paper, “Forrester Research data shows a growth from 15% to 29% in U.S. and European information workers working anytime and anywhere. Inserting a service catalog that allows this mobile workforce to receive, manage, and consume business and IT services will…reduce the cost of the service support team.”
Increase user satisfaction“Customer experience is more than just closing tickets. Establishing a single place for your business users to go where they can request and receive services from either a business team or IT has immediate impact on customer satisfaction and customer experience.” Indeed, a key goal of implementing a business service catalog within anis to not only cut costs but also delight users.
What could go wrong? Forrester also warns about common inhibitors to BT success, including:
- lack of clear purpose
- improper tools
- lack of ownership (“Ownership leads itself to accountability and pride, two key ingredients for success”)
- lack of executive buy in
Part one of this series defined the business service catalog concept, and part three will address request management architecture.