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IT Service Catalog - The Central Component Of IT Governance

Sep 19, 2005

ITSM Watch Staff

By Boris Pevzner

Role of the IT Service Catalog
To address the DMMI imperative, IT Service Catalogs, which define the services that an IT organization is delivering to the business users, have emerged as the central element of IT Governance models. Service Catalogs serve to align the business requirements with IT capabilities, communicate IT services to the business community, plan demand for these services, and orchestrate the delivery of these services across the functionally distributed (and, oftentimes, multi-sourced) IT organization.

Figure 1: Service Catalog aligns business requirements with IT capabilities.

Actionable IT Service Catalogs are now being offered by vendors as a robust capability that not only captures a list of IT services offered, but also facilitates:

  • IT best practices, captured as Service Catalog templates
  • Operational Level Agreements, Service Level Agreements (aligning internal & external customer expectations)
  • Hierarchical and modular service models
  • Catalogs of supporting and underlying infrastructures and dependencies (including direct links into the CMDB)
  • Demand management and capacity planning
  • Service request, configuration, validation, and approval processes
  • Workflow-driven provisioning of services
  • Key performance indicator (KPI)-based reporting and compliance auditing
Many IT organizations on the leading edge of IT best practices are currently leveraging these tools to implement Service Catalog-centric IT Governance frameworks. They are defining the services being delivered, implementing systems to manage the delivery of these services, developing metrics and KPIs to measure the quality and cost of delivering these services, and using this information to improve their delivery processes.

Those who have implemented this "IT Productization" framework successfully (along with the organizational and policy best practices), have seen dramatic improvements along all the key dimensions of IT Governance:

  • Business-IT strategic alignment - by focusing on the services with the highest business impact,
  • Value delivery - by realizing operational efficiencies through process and infrastructure automation,
  • Risk management - by formalizing business continuity provisions as well-defined IT services and by addressing regulatory compliance requirements through increased process definition and transparency, and
  • Resource management - by tying their service delivery systems directly into human, infrastructure, and knowledge resource repositories.
Increasingly, the Service Catalog is seen as a key strategic asset for leading CIOs, a valuable communications vehicle for IT leadership, and a roadmap for all IT personnel. Ultimately, the Service Catalog will enable the CIO to "sign off" on IT operations of the company just as the CFO is now required to sign off on the finance operations - thus becoming a key component of the corporate governance infrastructure.

By implementing best practices-based IT Service Catalogs, companies can ensure that "IT Governance" becomes more than just a buzzword, but rather an actionable methodology to most effectively harness the awesome power of information technology in the interests of the business enterprise.

=============== Boris Pevzner, the founder and chief strategy officer of Centrata, has advised many Global 1000 companies on their IT transformation initiatives. He started Centrata in 2000 with a vision to re-align IT around an actionable IT Services Catalog to enable effective IT governance. Prior to founding Centrata, Boris spent several years at Bell Labs, AT&T Labs and MIT Labs, where many of the fundamental ideas underlying Centrata were born. Pevzner holds bachelor's and master's degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT; he is a frequent speaker at technology conferences on ITIL and service-oriented IT service management. He writes a popular blog on IT Governance, "The Boris Files: Secrets of Successful CIOs."