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What is an IT Services Catalog? Definition, Examples & Templates

Updated: Feb 2

If you’ve ever been frustrated by the lack of clarity surrounding available IT services within your organization, or struggled to find the right service to fulfill your specific needs, an IT service catalog might just be the solution you’ve been searching for. Let’s dive into the world of IT services catalogs and discover how they can improve your IT service management experience.


Imagine a restaurant menu that outlines all the delicious dishes available, making it easier for customers to choose their desired meal. Similarly, a service catalog acts as a menu for users to easily navigate and select the various IT services offered by an organization. By centralizing and organizing these services, services catalogs are invaluable tools that bring efficiency, communication, and transparency to both end users and IT teams. In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of an IT services catalog, the benefits they provide, and how to create and maintain a successful IT services catalog that meets the needs of your organization.


Short Summary

  • An IT Service Catalog is a comprehensive resource outlining all available IT services to end users.

  • It serves as an effective tool for improving communication and transparency between teams, streamlining service delivery, and enhancing user experience.

  • Creating an effective catalog requires identifying stakeholders & services, designing the layout of the catalog in a user-centric manner with ongoing maintenance & updates, and selecting the right tools for implementation & evaluation.


Understanding IT Service Catalogs

An example of a Service Catalog
An example of a Service Catalog

An IT service catalog is a comprehensive resource that outlines all the IT services available to end users from an organization’s IT department, acting as a service provider. Think of it as a central hub where users can easily access relevant information on available services, often through a service desk.

These services offered could include:

  • Email and calendar services

  • Permissions and access

  • Hardware

  • Apps and software

  • Support resources

  • Training

  • Service requests

  • And more


Service Catalog vs IT Service Portfolio

It’s important to note that a service catalog is different from a service portfolio, which encompasses the entire lifecycle of all IT services and products managed by the organization, including retired services and products. The key distinction is that a service catalog encompasses only business services and related services that are accessible for implementation of service delivery, potentially from external vendors and service providers. In contrast, an IT service portfolio extends further to encompass all the services existing within an organization, even if they are not currently available.


Definition and Purpose

An IT service catalog serves as a one-stop resource for end users, providing clear and concise information on available IT services. Accessible through an IT service desk, it outlines the various services available, often accompanied by a service request feature, allowing users to formally request specific services to be provided. This is distinct from an incident, which is an unexpected event that interrupts the regular operation of a service. By offering a centralized and comprehensive list of IT services, a service catalog facilitates communication and transparency between IT teams and end users, ultimately leading to a greater understanding of available services and their associated costs.


I'll cover more on the service request management in another blog, but for now its important to understand that when a user or customer selects a service, it would in turn trigger the request fulfilment process.


Types of Service Catalogs

There are two primary types of service catalogs:

  • Business service catalogs, which prioritize end user needs, and;

  • Technical service catalogs, which prioritize internal IT resources. Service catalog examples can be found in various organizations, such as universities and large enterprises.


Business service catalogs are tailored to meet the requirements of end users, providing an extensive list of services accessible to customers, along with detailed descriptions, pricing, and other pertinent information. On the other hand, technical service catalogs focus on internal IT resources, offering comprehensive information on services available to IT teams, including descriptions, pricing, and other relevant details.


By understanding the different types of service catalogs, organizations can better assess their specific needs and choose the appropriate catalog type that aligns with their goals. This ensures that both end users and IT teams have access to relevant and comprehensive information on the IT services available within the organization, ultimately leading to a more efficient and effective IT service management process.


The Benefits of Implementing an IT Service Catalog


Implementing an IT service catalog offers numerous benefits, including improved communication, streamlined service delivery, and enhanced user experience. As with any valuable tool, the true value of an IT service catalog lies in its ability to address key challenges faced by organizations in managing their IT services.

a man looking at metrics and progress

By providing a centralized resource that details available services, an IT service catalog allows for better coordination between IT teams and end users, ultimately leading to a more efficient and effective IT service management process.


In the following sections, we’ll explore the specific benefits that an IT service catalog can bring to an organization, including improved communication and transparency, streamlined service delivery, and enhanced user experience. By understanding these benefits, organizations are better equipped to make informed decisions on whether to implement an IT service catalog and how to leverage its potential to its fullest extent. In short however, having a service catalog helps you get your house in order, so that those you engage with can easily understand the offerings and how to engage with you.


Improved Communication and Transparency

IT service catalogs play a crucial role in improving communication and transparency between IT teams and end users. By offering a centralized and comprehensive list of IT services, other departments within the organization can easily understand and access these services, leading to improved communication and collaboration between IT and the business. Additionally, the service catalog provides transparency to end users about IT service offerings, which helps build trust and confidence in the IT organization.


Improved communication and transparency also extend to validating the costs of the IT department or business area by providing data on service usage. This valuable information allows organizations to:

  • Make more informed decisions on resource allocation

  • Make more informed decisions on budgeting

  • Ultimately lead to a more efficient and cost-effective IT service management process.


Streamlined Service Delivery

One of the key benefits of an IT service catalog is its ability to streamline service delivery. By organizing and categorizing services in a manner that is easy for users to navigate and understand, IT service catalogs make it simpler for users to locate and request the services they need. This ultimately results in a more efficient service delivery process, as users can quickly find the services they require without having to spend significant time and effort searching for them.


Additionally, streamlined service delivery offers the following benefits:

  • Minimizes the potential for misunderstandings and miscommunications between IT teams and end users

  • Leads to a faster and more efficient service request process

  • Ensures that users have access to clear and concise information on each service

  • Helps organizations deliver a consistently high level of service that meets the needs and expectations of their users.


Enhanced User Experience

An IT service catalog can significantly enhance the user experience by simplifying the process of finding and requesting services through a self service portal. By providing clear, concise, and easily accessible information on available services, IT service catalogs empower users to make informed decisions on which services to request or utilize. This ultimately leads to increased user satisfaction, as users can obtain the services they need with minimal effort and frustration.


Furthermore, an effective IT service catalog can also improve user satisfaction by providing users with a more personalized experience. For example, by tailoring the catalog to meet the unique needs of different user groups within the organization, IT service catalogs can ensure that users have access to the specific services and resources they require. This not only results in a more efficient and effective IT service management process, but also fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among users, ultimately leading to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement.


Steps to Create an Effective IT Service Catalog


Steps to create an IT Service Catalog
Steps to create an IT Service Catalog

Creating an effective IT service catalog is a multi-step process that requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing maintenance. By following a structured approach, organizations can ensure that their IT service catalog remains relevant, up-to-date, and effective in meeting the needs of both end users and IT teams.

In this section, we’ll explore the key steps involved in creating an effective IT service catalog. These steps include:

  1. Identifying stakeholders and services

  2. Designing and organizing the catalog

  3. Continuously improving the catalog through testing, deployment, and feedback.


Step 1: Identifying Stakeholders and Services

The first step in creating an effective IT service catalog is to identify the stakeholders and services. This involves engaging with various teams and departments within the organization to determine the specific IT services they require, as well as understanding the unique needs and expectations of end users. By taking the time to identify and understand the key stakeholders and services, organizations can ensure that their catalog is comprehensive, relevant, and tailored to the needs of their users.


Additionally, it’s important to designate service owners who will be responsible for maintaining and updating the information on each service within the catalog. These service owners should have a deep understanding of the specific services they manage, as well as the needs and expectations of the users who rely on these services. By assigning clear ownership and responsibility for each service, organizations can ensure that their IT service catalog remains accurate, up-to-date, and effective in meeting the needs of their users.


So, first up you'll need to compile a list of services offered by IT, either directly or indirectly (e.g. third-party services). 


This should include technical and non-technical services. It should be a list of everything the IT team offer. It can help all kinds of decision-making, ownership allocation, roles & responsibility clarities, clarifying to senior execs exactly the scope and costs of IT services, etc.


At this time, it is ALL services, regardless of whether or not they are to be included in the service catalogue for service requests.


For each service, define its scope, eligibility criteria and any associated costs, if applicable.


Information to Gather

  • Service Name : A clear & concise name for each service, aking it easily recognizable and understandable for others.

  • Service Description : A summary of the purpose, functionality & benefits

  • Service Category : Classify the service into an appropriate category or subcategory to facilitate navigation and organization within the Service Catalog (e.g., Communication, Collaboration, Infrastructure, Security, etc.).

  • Eligibility Criteria: Specify who can request or access teh services, such as a user group, department, or level of employee.

  • Prerequisites : List any preconditions that must be met before a user can access the service (e.g. training)

  • Costs & Pricing : If relevant, provide costs such as one-time-fees or subscription charges.

  • Request Process : Clarify the process for making a request of the service (forms, approvals, etc)

  • Fulfillment Time : Define how long it will take for the request to be turned around.

  • Dependencies : If applicable, list any relationships with other services, applications or hardware that may be needed as well.

  • Additional Resources : Provide details to any other helpful information, such as user guides, FAQs, training, etc.


Below is an example of building out a list of your services. A template with suggestions is available for download from my website.


An example of a service list
An example of a service list

Designing and Organizing the Catalog


Once stakeholders and services have been identified, the next step is to design and organize the IT service catalog in a manner that is easy for users to navigate and understand. This involves creating a user-friendly interface, categorizing services intuitively, and providing clear and concise information on each service. By designing and organizing the catalog in a logical and user-centric manner, organizations can ensure that users can quickly and easily find and request the services they need.


two people looking a a rocket ship design

Now, here it's important that we don't try to 'boil the ocean' and do too much in our attempt to launch. Instead, it may be better to build and iterate. So, it's an option to simply focus on one service, customer or group of users, publish those services, and build out from there. 


For example, if one of your most frequent requests is for new software, or you have a problem with a proliferation of new software, you might want to focus on that first. 


So, before you start, ensure you've defined your scope and what you hope to achieve. Getting something out there, seeing if it has value, and then adapting and building upon it can be valuable if you are limited by time and resources.


Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the catalog is structured in a way that supports ongoing maintenance and updates. This may involve utilizing a service catalog template or software solution that allows for easy updates and modifications, as well as implementing a process for regularly reviewing and updating the catalog to ensure it remains accurate and relevant.


By investing time and effort in designing and organizing the catalog, organizations can create a valuable resource that not only meets the needs of their users, but also adapts and evolves over time as the organization and its IT service offerings change.


Key Steps

  1. Develop the workflows & playbooks

  2. Configure the service catalogue


Develop the workflows & playbooks

Document the work instructions/procedures necessary for each item in your catalogue. For example, New User Setup.


As explored in the knowledge management section, having a standard template for work instructions ensures consistency and efficiency across different procedures. Therefore, now is the perfect time to utilise the procedure template shared in the chapter on Knowledge Management.


The more documented, the easier it is to train new staff, slicken the process and ensure consistency of results. However, writing instructions can often meet resistance due to the perceived value of knowledge harbouring by individuals, pushback on the lack of resources to do so, and many other reasons. We need to push through these with top-down managerial support and buy-in. That said, very often, people aren't comfortable with writing, and we should acknowledge and support that, so don't assume that any resistance is due to laziness or insufficient time.


Below is an example of a template for a Playbook which can be downloaded from iseoblue.com


An example of a playbook
An example of a playbook

Configure The Service Catalogue

Create a Service Catalogue of customer-facing options using a subset of the service inventory and perhaps expanding on variants under options such as 'software'. 


Most ITSM tools can offer this as part of the Incident tool or as a module. If not, then other tools like SharePoint can be used to publish the content and potentially automate the workflow. As this is a software-specific thing, we can't dive into the details, but you potentially have two routes open;

  1. Publishing a basic catalogue that triggers a request to be logged in the system, which the IT Team can process manually.

  2. Adding workflows to the catalogue that route new requests for approval and then execution by specific teams.


I cannot tell you the specific steps to take with your software solution to implement the Service Catalogue, and I urge you to follow the vendor's advice. However, I would expect it to follow a similar method to below;


Review tool-specific requirements

Understand the specific requirements and formatting guidelines of the selected ITSM tool to ensure compatibility with your Service Catalogue. For example, some tools may require particular data formats, fields, or structures requiring preparation or consideration.

Prepare service data for import

Format your Service Catalogue data according to the ITSM tool's requirements. This may involve organising services into categories, mapping fields to the tool's schema, or converting data into compatible formats (e.g., CSV, XML).


Import service data

Upload your Service Catalogue data using the ITSM tool's import functionality. This may involve using an import wizard, uploading a file, or copying and pasting data directly into the tool.


Configure Service Catalogue settings

Within the ITSM tool, configure settings related to the Service Catalogue, such as access permissions, user roles, notifications, and workflows. Customise these settings to align with your organisation's processes and policies.


Verify data and functionality

After importing your Service Catalogue, review the data and functionality within the ITSM tool to ensure accuracy and completeness. Then, make any necessary adjustments or corrections to the imported data.


Testing, Deployment, and Continuous Improvement

The final step in creating an effective IT service catalog is to ensure its ongoing success through testing, deployment, and continuous improvement. This involves:

  1. Thoroughly testing the catalog to identify any issues or areas for improvement before deployment

  2. Gathering feedback from users to inform ongoing updates and enhancements

  3. Committing to a process of continual improvement to ensure that the IT service catalog remains relevant, effective, and aligned with the needs of users.

Test, deploy, improve cycle

In addition to regular testing and updates, it’s also important for organizations to regularly review and analyze key performance metrics to ensure the ongoing success of their IT service catalog. By closely monitoring usage rates, user satisfaction, and service delivery efficiency, organizations can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance the overall performance and effectiveness of their IT service catalog.


Key Metrics for Evaluating IT Service Catalog Performance


When it comes to evaluating the performance of an IT service catalog, there are several key metrics that organizations should consider. These include:

  • Usage rates: quantifying the number of services requested in comparison to the number of services delivered

  • Customer satisfaction: assessed through customer surveys, customer feedback, and customer service ratings

  • Efficiency of service delivery: evaluating how quickly services are delivered and how well they meet customer expectations

A woman looking at screens of data

By regularly monitoring these key metrics, organizations can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their IT service catalog and identify opportunities for improvement. This data-driven approach allows organizations to make informed decisions on how to enhance their IT service catalog, ultimately leading to a more efficient and effective IT service management process.


Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Creating an IT Service Catalog


Creating an effective IT service catalog is a challenging process, and there are several common pitfalls that organizations should be aware of and avoid. These include:

a woman slipping on a banana skin

  • Using technical language that may be difficult for end users to understand

  • Being too granular with categorization, which can make the catalog difficult to navigate

  • Trying to get it perfect & to cover everything from launch

  • Assuming end users’ requirements without properly consulting them

  • Being unresponsive to feedback

By being mindful of these potential pitfalls, organizations can ensure that their IT service catalog is user-friendly, relevant, and effective in meeting the needs of both end users and IT teams. By avoiding these common mistakes and focusing on best practices, organizations can create an IT service catalog that not only streamlines IT service management but also fosters a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement.


Selecting the Right IT Service Catalog Tool

Selecting the right IT service catalog tool is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success of your IT service catalog implementation. When evaluating potential tools, organizations should consider factors such as ease of use, automation capabilities, and flexibility in adding and updating services. By selecting a tool that aligns with their specific needs and requirements, organizations can ensure that their IT service catalog is not only effectively implemented but also easy to maintain and update over time.In addition to the factors mentioned above, organizations should also consider the scalability and integration capabilities of potential IT service catalog tools. This includes the ability to scale the tool to accommodate future growth and changes in the organization’s IT service offerings, as well as the ability to integrate the tool with other IT service management systems and processes. By selecting a tool that is both scalable and adaptable, organizations can ensure that their IT service catalog remains relevant, effective, and aligned with their evolving IT service management needs.


Real-Life Examples of IT Service Catalogs

Real-life examples of IT service catalogs can offer valuable insights into how these tools are employed and utilized in actual organizations. By examining these examples, IT professionals can gain a better understanding of the potential advantages, functionalities, and best practices associated with an IT service catalog, as well as learn from the successful implementations and avoid common mistakes. In addition, real-life examples can inspire creativity and innovation by showcasing different approaches and solutions to IT service management challenges.


Examples of Service Catalogs

Here are some links to examples;



Most of the examples of service catalogs available on the internet are for universities, which have embraced the concept, and are public facing. Privatly owned organisations are going to be less willing to share that kind of information publically. For many more examples, google "service catalog university".


By examining these real-life examples, organizations can gain valuable insights into the diverse features and best practices for designing and implementing effective IT service catalogs that meet the needs of their users and support their overall IT service management goals.


Summary

In conclusion, IT service catalogs are powerful tools that can revolutionize the way organizations manage their IT services. By centralizing and organizing available services, IT service catalogs improve communication and transparency, streamline service delivery, and enhance the user experience. Creating an effective IT service catalog is a multi-step process that requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing maintenance, as well as the selection of the right IT service catalog tool that aligns with an organization’s specific needs and requirements.


By exploring real-life examples and best practices, organizations can learn from the experiences of others and create their own successful IT service catalog implementations. As organizations continue to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing world of IT, the IT service catalog remains a critical tool that can help organizations navigate these challenges and achieve their IT service management goals. So, why wait? Start exploring the potential benefits of an IT service catalog for your organization today!


Frequently Asked Questions

What is in an IT service catalogue?

The IT service catalogue acts as a menu, displaying available IT services, hardware, software and support options in a clear, user-friendly format. It includes information on both customer-facing and supporting services for the service provider.


The catalogue should be easy to navigate and understand, so that customers can quickly find the services they need. It should also provide detailed information about each service, including pricing, availability, and any special requirements. This will help customers make better decisions.


What is a software service catalog?

An IT service catalog is an organized and user-friendly interface that provides a list of services offered by an organization. It allows users to research available services, enabling them to make efficient and relevant requests.


The catalog should be easy to navigate and understand, so that users can quickly find the services they need. It should also provide detailed information about each service, such as cost, availability, and any special requirements.


What are the benefits of an IT service catalog?

The benefits of an IT service catalog include facilitating self-help, centralizing request management, simplifying user experience, enabling agile business processes, providing end-to-end visibility into the value chain, reducing service costs, and increasing user satisfaction.


This helps to reduce the cost of service delivery while improving user experience.


How do I create a service catalogue?

To create a service catalogue, first download the template and create a key pair. Then create a portfolio, product, template constraint, launch constraint, and grant access to the users.


After testing the user experience, plan customer needs, identify customers and service providers, and define and categorize service offerings. Finally, organize your service fulfillment strategy and design your catalog.


What is the difference between a service catalog and a service portfolio?

The main difference between a service catalog and a service portfolio is that the former contains only the services available for implementation, while the latter encompasses all services within an organization, even those that are not available.


This means that the service portfolio includes services that are in the process of being developed, as well as those that are not yet available. It also includes services that have been retired or are no longer in use. By having a comprehensive view of all services, organizations can better plan for the future.


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About the author

Hi, I'm Alan, and have been working within the IT sector for over 30 years.

For the last 15 years, I've focused on IT Governance, Information Security, Projects and Service Management across various styles of organisations and markets.

I hold a degree in Information Systems, ITIL Expert certificate, PRINCE2 Practitioner and CISMP (Information Security Management).

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