Author: Paul Curwell
What is a Service Catalogue and why is it important?
Service Catalogues are receiving increased attention from Chief Operating Officers and business managers as organisations continue the digital transformation journey for internally-facing shared services teams. A Service Catalogue comprises the list of the service offerings (the ‘services menu’) for a functional team, making it easy for internal customers (stakeholders) to understand and access the team’s services.
Service Catalogues also create boundaries that define what a functional team will and will not do, particularly when developed in consultation with, and approved by, senior management. Optional or ‘nice to have’ services may simply not be feasible or affordable at a point in time – the service catalogue process provides a mechanism to agree these offerings and then align them with performance scorecards, resource availability, corporate strategy and internal policies.
How do you build one?
Building a Service Catalogue is a relatively straight forward process involving data collection and interviews or workshops. I typically use Microsoft Excel as my tool of choice for building the initial service catalogue. Once built, I may move this to Microsoft Sharepoint, JIRA or other solutions (see below) depending on the client’s strategy. There are six main steps involved in building a Service Catalogue:
- Step 1 – Review the organisational chart and position descriptions: Organisational charts usually show the functions within a Business Unit (BU) or team which typically align to the main categories of service offering.
- Step 2 – identify the main service offerings within each service category: this typically involves interviews or workshops with people in the respective team. The aim here is to understand everything team members do on a day to day basis, and to try and categorise these into distinct services.
- Step 3 – populate the Service Catalogue template: based on responses gathered from Step 2.
- Step 4 – remove duplications and deconflict services: sometimes there is a tendancy for team members to view a service as being completely distinct, when it is actually a variation of another service. Ideally, variation should be avoided where possible as this generates waste and errors (in lean six sigma language). If variations are required,
- Step 5 – process map each service and prepare SOPs: Once each service has been identified, the business process should be mapped and any opportunities to streamline or increase process efficiency implemented. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should be prepared for each service offering which align to the process map.
- Step 6 – align the Service Catalogue with performance metrics, team resourcing and HR position profiles: Once developed, it is important to assign performance metrics to the team, such as the turnaround time (SLA) which an internal customer has to wait for a process to be completed (e.g. building passes for new hires will be issued within 24 business hours of lodging a request form). Team metrics, tracked through tools like Kanban boards, allow team leaders to implement daily standups with their team to focus effort on the highest priority tasks and remediate delayed or overdue tasks.
As illustrated by the six step methodology above, building a Service Catalogue is a relatively straightforward process that helps focus the attention of internal teams on core business.
A basis for improving governance, performance and team resourcing
Service Catalogues contribute to better governance and performance outcomes, enabling functional team leaders to clearly define what they do, how they do it, and the value it contributes to the business. Non-customer facing support functions are always under cost and resource pressure in any business: Service Catalogues should also align with performance scorecards to track service delivery against agreed KPIs.
Employee position descriptions should align with the Service Catalogue, ensuring staff holding those roles are able to effectively perform the required functions without being over or under qualified. Capturing service delivery performance metrics, including time taken to execute each service and the number of requests for that service over a defined period of time also provides the data required to ‘right size’ the team headcount to suit business requirements, required service levels, and risk appetite.
Service Catalogues – an enabler of digital transformation
Every manager knows that resources are always limited – there is always more you should, could, or would like to be doing but time, cost and quality is a handbrake. Digital transformation is increasingly being adopted by internally facing services teams such as security, fraud, HR, finance, legal and others. The adoption of digital transformation tools, such as case management solutions, workflow management tools and process automation offers the chance to minimise manual handling and allow users to self-service, reducing demands on support staff.
Having done a few of these activities before, I often find that the Office of the CIO has procured an IT Service Management tool which can be easily adapted and redeployed for other non-IT Service Management tasks with an incremental increase in spend (typically licensing and configuration). Once developed, Service Catalogues are increasingly being implemented in online tools such as:
- Atlassian JIRA – extremely popular and easy to use, Australian company Atlassian’s web-based JIRA solution makes it easy to track tasks and integrate workflows and decisioning for service requests.
- ServiceNow IT Service Management – An increasingly popular and common option, ServiceNow is being rolled out as part of enterprise implementations to transform internal operations.
- Microsoft SharePoint – One of the more enduring and common corporate intranet solutions, SharePoint can help streamline processes and workflows using a combination of SharePoint lists and tools such as Power Automate and Power Apps from a web browser.
These solutions provide simple opportunities to streamline and enhance service delivery and performance of internal services teams, and can form the basis for digital transformation across all shared services teams in any business. In a future article, I will provide a guide on implementing your Service Catalogue in JIRA.
- Atlassian (2023). JIRA | Issue and Project Tracking Software, https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira
- Gartner (2023). IT Service Management Platforms Reviews and Ratings, Gartner Peer Insights, https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/it-service-management-platforms
- Microsoft (2023). Build your team intranet with Microsoft Sharepoint, https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/microsoft-365/sharepoint/collaboration
- ServiceNow (2023). IT Service Management, https://www.servicenow.com/products/itsm.html
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