Home �   ITIL�  Index

Service Catalogue is the Center of the ITSM Universe

May 10, 2007

The IT Skeptic

  • The brochure is a high-level document written in business terms that defines what is provided (or could be provided) to the business. It is used by relationship managers to provide a basis for discussions. It is used by staff as a point of reference.
  • The technical specification is the same document with extensive supplementary information. It is used in the ITIL processes. Once you have them, SLAs form a part of it, and there is much else: critical components, related services, escalation paths, available training etc.
  • You build the brochure as early as possible in an ITIL implementation process. The technical specification grows slowly over time.

    ITIL agrees. Page 33 of the “red book” lists producing a Service Catalogue as the very first activity of implementing SLM. Unfortunately, this advice is buried one level too low. Producing a service catalogue is one of the first activities of implementing any ITIL process.

    Some organisations choose to “do”, say, incident management first and leave SLM to later. Reading the ITIL “blue book” ( Best Practice for Service Support ) one would be forgiven for thinking this means the Service Catalogue is not required for Incident Management.

    Seek in vain for a mention of it under Incident Management. It gets passing mention in only a couple of places in the whole “blue book” and one good solid reference where it is specified on page 56 as “fundamental” to the Service Desk function.

    But without a Service Catalogue you are not doing ITSM Incident Management. You are doing good-old geeky, technical-bits-are-broken Incident Management, with zero understanding of the impact on the business (other than the number of phones ringing).

    Service Catalogue drives your people. It is a key mechanism in cultural change, the foundation of customer relationship, and a pivotal tool for organising effort.

    Service Catalogue informs your processes. It is only once the services are defined that all the other ITIL processes know what is required of them, and how to prioritise.

    Service Catalogue lives in the CMDB and the CMDB is the technology hub of ITIL. CMDB is arguably the hub of all ITIL processes too, although I would go in to bat for the Service Catalogue. But Service Catalogue is undoubtedly the hub around which the people revolve, not SLAs or CMDB.

    Not that you would know it to read the Version 2 books. Version 3 pays more attention to the “service lifecycle”: the process of implementing the processes, as it were.

    So we can hope that such a focus will draw out the importance of the Service Catalogue and put it in its rightful place, up front and in the middle, with SLAs as an appendix and CMDB as underpinning documentation.

    The IT Skeptic is an ITIL professional and active itSMF member who, for obvious reasons, prefers to remain anonymous. More thoughts from the IT Skeptic can be found at IT Skeptic.