What are 16 challenges when gathering information for a customer-facing Service Catalogue

By ITIL® from Experience ©

Collecting information for a customer-facing service1 catalogue can be challenging. A key challenge is to navigate through people’s understanding of:

  • A service as described by ITIL® vs. technology vendors use of the term “service” (e.g. MS Windows Service, Software as a Service, Service Oriented Architecture);
  • A service catalogue2 and its purpose, based on;
  • The scope of the catalogue (e.g. customer-facing vs. supporting services3 vs. self-service tool)

Quite often stakeholders will need some training to ensure a common understanding. Without this some groups will want to include all activities they do even if they are not a customer-facing service as they see the opportunity to bring visibility to the work they do.

In addition, here are fifteen (15) more potential challenges.
  1. Determining the level of details:
    • Should the length of passwords be included?
    • Should cost be mentioned even if customers are not charged and given that I.T. does not know the cost of every service?
    • Is it simply a description of the offering and how to order it –or- also a marketing effort to explain the value of the service and why Customers/Users should order it?
  2. Identifying the multiple point of contacts (e.g. phone numbers, email addresses, web site, walkup counters)
  3. Communicating clearly and simply the different hours of service for each point of contacts (e.g. the Service Desk is from 8:00 a.m. to 20:00 p.m. including Statutory Holidays while Telecommunications is from 9:00 to 5:00 p.m. excluding Statutory Holidays, but if there is a network outage it can be reported 24x7x365. Of course each point of contact is likely to have its own telephone number, email address, etc.)
  4. Understanding the various SLAs which might be in contradiction or have irrational response and resolution times (e.g. installing one printer is 4 days and installing 4 printers is 4 days. A password reset is 30 min. while a PIN reset is 2 days)
  5. Making sense of the various ordering procedures and approval business rules (e.g. forms or information required in the email to request the service)
  6. Understanding which document contains valid information. Information if often replicated and sometimes contradicts itself. It can also be difficult to establish which source is valid if it doesn’t have a date as it can be several years old.
  7. Determining if the catalogue should link to supporting documents potentially giving users inconsistent formats or incomplete information
  8. Deciding on a format
  9. Identifying a clear authority, known as the Service Owner1 to:
    • Approve the description and attributes of the service when people have contradicting opinions or when current practice does not reflect what is documented.
    • Decide on the offering when two groups are providing part of a service (e.g. For Access Management: account creation is performed by the infrastructure or application group while password reset is performed by the Service Desk)
  10. Deciding on services or attributes to retire since they should no longer be offered (e.g. pagers, reporting incidents by fax, network based faxing)
  11. Knowing the impact of removing a key service attribute without historical insight as to why it was there in the first place (e.g. an order for 1 to 3 PCs will be delivered in 3 days while a request 4 or more PCs must be negotiated since this later request needs to be coordinated by a supervisor as stated in the collective agreement)
  12. Reluctance to include a service in the catalogue because:
    • The service provider does not want it advertised to avoid generating demand
    • It should have been retired (e.g. local Inkjet printers)
    • The service offering and its owner will change due to an imminent re-org
    • There is a project to update/upgrade the service
  13. Agreeing on a publishing date due to projects underway that will change the service offerings
  14. Difficulty of keeping the catalogue current once released due to the lack process (i.e. moving target) and to ensure that supporting documents it links to are also maintained (e.g. no invalid links)
  15. Getting projects to clearly explain the new service being implemented, or how it changes the ordering process and types of service requests
  16. Agreeing on service names (see What are good groupings for a Service Catalogue)

Sometimes working through these challenges is like being a detective so that accurate information can be discovered. Having a clear and concise scope helps the project focus on challenges that needs to be resolved. Finally, in addition to the challenges listed here each Service Catalogue tool will have challenges due to constraints and limitations.


From Around the Web:

ITIL Process > Service Catalogue Management


Customer-facing service: (ITIL® Service Design) An IT service that is visible to the customer. These are normally services that support the customer’s business processes and facilitate one or more outcomes desired by the customer. All live customer-facing services, including those available for deployment, are recorded in the service catalogue along with customer-visible information about deliverables, prices, contact points, ordering and request processes. Other information such as relationships to supporting services and other CIs will also be recorded for internal use by the IT service provider.
Source: ITIL® glossary and abbreviations, English, 2011, www.itil-officialsite.com/InternationalActivities/TranslatedGlossaries.aspx


Service Catalogue: (ITIL® Service Design) (ITIL® Service Strategy) A database or structured document with information about all live IT services, including those available for deployment. The service catalogue is part of the service portfolio and contains information about two types of IT service: customer-facing services that are visible to the business; and supporting services required by the service provider to deliver customer-facing services. See also customer agreement portfolio; service catalogue management.
Source: ITIL® glossary and abbreviations, English, 2011, www.itil-officialsite.com/InternationalActivities/TranslatedGlossaries.aspx


Supporting service: (ITIL® Service Design) An IT service that is not directly used by the business, but is required by the IT service provider to deliver customer-facing services (for example, a directory service or a backup service). Supporting services may also include IT services only used by the IT service provider. All live supporting services, including those available for deployment, are recorded in the service catalogue along with information about their relationships to customer-facing services and other CIs.
Source: ITIL® glossary and abbreviations, English, 2011, www.itil-officialsite.com/InternationalActivities/TranslatedGlossaries.aspx


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