The Service Catalog Portal – Your window to your customer

The Service Catalog Portal – Your window to your customer
4.5 (90%) 2 votes

My presentation “The Service Catalog Portal – Your window to your customer” was recorded on April 9 2014 on the BrightTalk Platform.

You can watch the recording here on BrightTalk:


Or you can watch the slides her on SlideShare

[slideshare id=33410412&doc=servicecatalog-martinpscheidl-itsmf-140411075758-phpapp01]

These are the notes of my presentation:

Slide 1

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Martin Pscheidl and I am happy about the invitation to speak to you about our experiences with service catalog portals we saw in multiple small and large enterprises.

Today we talk about a number of service catalog types, what they are used for, and about what you should take care when you start building self-service catalog portals.

You can submit your questions during my presentation via the questions box in your BrightTalk interface.

I will try to answer them at the end of my presentation, because I brought a huge slide deck with me.

If there is not enough time to answer all questions at the end I will post answers to all your questions on our itsmblog. You can find a link to my prepared blog on top of this presentation screen under the attachments.

 Slide 2

So, why were we from the Austrian IT Service Management Chapter invited to hold such a presentation?

It is simply because we are part of an international community of users and experts in IT service management. We are working on a not-for-profit base. We are independent. And we are exchanging our experiences and collect best practices to support our members and everybody who is interested in IT Service Management. Our focus topics this year are IT Process Mining and Service Catalog.

And by the way: Yes we are from Austria. That’s in Central Europe. The other country with kangaroos is Australia. We have Mozart.

 Slide 3

I am the chair-man if ITSM Austria and I will bring two points of view to the discussion. One is my expertise in the IT Service Management from uncountable customer visits.

And my second view is the User perspective, because I am using many Catalog Services like every internet user does.

 Slide 4

Since ITIL was sold to Axelos our community has to take more care on using ITL references and so on.

This slide is showing what our legal says!

Beside of ITIL we will hear about Amazon, Apple, Google and ServiceNow which are all trademarks of their respective holders.

 Slide 5

But before we really start let me ask about your experience with IT Service Management Service Catalogs. Please give me a voting! Use the vote button on your screen.

I will share the results later.

If you are a Consultant please do not answer!

Please tell us about your Service Catalog! My IT organization…

  • …doesn’t provide a Service Catalog.
  • …provides a Service Catalog on Paper.
  • …provides a Service Catalog Portal for our internal users.
  • …provides a Service Catalog Portal for our external customers.
  • …provides a Service Catalog Portal for both users and customers.

 Slide 6

ITIL is heavily focused on services, on the service lifecycle and on the value that services are delivering to the organization and their customers. Paramount to this is the service catalog.

The service catalog is generally referred to in the singular. Therefore, it is quite common for people to develop a single service catalog or to believe that they must develop a single catalog.

However, the service catalog is not just one entity. There are a number of service catalog types that can exist within an organization, because there are many different types of services that can exist.

Each organization is different and each organization will use and offer different services to fulfill the needs of their users and customers.

Equally, there are a number of basic service types that exist through many organizations.

These practically will form the basis of a service catalog that can apply to many different organizations.

At a minimum the service catalog should define services for the following service types:

For IT systems, for IT services, for business services, and for customer services.

The Actionable service catalogs include the business actionable services and the customer actionable services.

The optional catalogs that provide value will include a product catalog, supplier catalogs, a professional services catalog and maybe brokered services catalogs.

This figure shows how all these service catalog types are logically linked together. Using this taxonomy allows for the different service types to be recorded and presented to, and understood by the relevant audience.

In theory the service catalog could be a single repository. However, the reality is that the service catalog may actually span multiple repositories.

We will discuss these service catalog types in more detail on the following slides.

 Slide 7

IT systems and IT services are separate service catalog types but together they constitute the IT service catalog. IT personnel may see IT systems as actually IT services. Confusion can be experienced all round when business services are introduced. This is not a failing on anyone’s behalf but may be borne from a lack of guidance and information. One reason may be that IT views the services from the technology layer and generally not in the same context as how the user of a business service or the customer of a customer service perceives the service.

Regardless it is necessary to clarify these basic definitions throughout the organization to ensure that everybody is talking the same language and that it is clear to all the differences between IT services and IT systems.

Technology enables organizations to work more efficient and effectively and to deliver more to users and customers quicker, faster and smarter. In the IT service catalog, technology can be broken down into IT systems and IT services. IT systems will be broken down into the CIs that make up that system.

 Slide 8

The IT service catalog contains a listing of the IT systems and IT services, along with information regarding key attributes for the IT systems and IT services contained in their respective service records. The IT service catalog also maintains the relationships between the IT system and IT service records.

One remark from my side:

It is not enough to just list applications within an IT catalog. I know: Applications play a major part in supporting IT functions and business process. However an application cannot exist on its own. Applications rely on IT infrastructure such as connectivity, storage and security to name just a few. If the application provides functionality that is used by the business, it should be placed in the business service catalog with an appropriate business service record which is linked back to the IT services and IT systems that are required in order for it to work.

 Slide 9

The business service catalog contains a listing of the business services, along with information regarding key attributes for the business services contained in their respective service records.

The business service catalog should also contain relationships with the IT service records.

This catalog represents the services used by personnel within the organization and should be recorded from their perspective in language and format that they understand.

Business services rely on technology, so there is a direct relationship between the two.

You know: poor technological design, support and maintenance can render the best business service ineffective and inefficient.

A further three additional service catalog types that exist, which are not explicitly stated in ITIL, are the customer service catalog, the business actionable catalog, and the customer actionable catalog.

I’ll tell you about them now.

 Slide 10

Customer services rely on IT services (technology) and adequate business services. Thus, there is a direct relationship between the IT systems, IT services and business services that enable the customer services.

The customer service catalog contains a listing of the customer services along with information regarding key attributes for the customer services contained in their respective service record.

The customer service catalog should also contain relationships between the business service records which in turn are related to the IT services. This catalog represents the services used by the organization’s customers and should be recorded from their perspective.

OK. -the three types of service catalog discussed so far, the IT, the business and the customer service catalogs, all contain information regarding their particular services and equally as important, they contain the relationships between their different service records.

If done correctly, this can build into an end-to-end service model which maps out all the services, used by an organization and their customers.

This truly is the endgame but being under no illusion about the complexity that can be faced with achieving such an end-to-end service mapping, for any sizeable organization.

And another remark: Your IT teams will primarily get in touch and work with Systems an IT Services. Many of your IT specialists will never think about business services, but if you are responsible for let’s say release, config, or change management, then you can control and steer all their actions using an end-to-end change impact analysis or a business impact analysis based on your end-to-end service model.

There is another type of service catalog called „the actionable service catalog“ which can be provided to the business users and customers.

It is an actual capability to allow users and customers to interact with the organization and order various services. It is still a catalog but needs to do much more than the other three types of service catalogs.

The actionable service catalog is in effect a service itself.

We will cover the two types of actionable service catalogs on the following slides.

 Slide 11

The service catalog types discussed in the previous slides do not provide functionality that allows users or customers to order goods and services from. They are static by nature and provide a means to represent service mappings and provide information about each service via service catalog records.

The actionable service catalog is an element of the service catalog that is published to users and customers and allows them to order goods and services. This service catalog type is considered dynamic.

Actionable service catalogs can be utilized to enable staff to work more efficiently and effectively and to reduce the cost of supporting them by using IT to automate the delivery of service requests. Customers are presented with more and more online and internet capabilities that allow them to interact with organizations even from the comfort of their armchair, given an ordinary computer or smart device.

An organization may have an internal actionable service catalog, via an intranet, and an external public actionable service catalog and product catalog, via the internet.

The actionable element of the internal service catalog could simply be an extension of the organizations service management system if it has such capability.

While some service management systems have inbuilt functionality to provide actionable service catalog capabilities, for example APIs (Application Programming Interface) and web page functionality, others do not, or are so basic that they are not fit for the purpose of an actionable service catalog.

But it is key to your success to provide a strong Service Catalog Portal supported by powerful technology.

 Slide 12

To decide about the Actionable Service Catalog and the Service Catalog Portal technology the organization should: recognize the requirements, know about involved people, understand the process, and of course identify the correct technology.

It is important to involve a number of users of the actionable service catalogs in the design and testing of the catalogs. Their input is required in developing an actionable service catalog that will be relevant, understood and successful with its users. Users should also be allowed to test the catalog and be part of the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) of the catalog before it is fully published to all.

This approach should ensure that a useable and relevant actionable service catalog is provided in a format that is clear, understandable and easy to use.


The most basic internal actionable service catalog can be found in organizations that allow users to log service requests via an intranet page.

The most general external service catalog can be represented by online stores that allow users to not only buy products and services, but that also allow them to manage their own account and specific details about their preferences and to submit queries and problems to a support group.

Cloud Service Providers are real great in these capabilities however they are mostly technical oriented. Only real Public Cloud Software as a Service Providers are really consumer oriented and therefore more or less dummy and bullet proofed.

Typical traits of an actionable service catalog include:

  • it should be presented in everyday language that the user understands
  • it needs to be easy to navigate for the user to find what it is that, they are looking for
  • it presents a list of the services that the users understand which are available for them to order, for example a new laptop request; the ability for a user to release a blocked email themselves; or the ability to book an appointment, et cetera
  • it of course should have the functionality of a shopping cart
  • different users can have different levels of access depending on their entitlement to a particular service
  • it may also allow the user to see the status of their interaction and any history associated with it, for example is it pending, approved or declined (like the tracking facility)
  • and finally it provides management dashboards.

To summarize: The actionable service catalog is an interface presented to users and customers for them to order particular services that relate to them.

The services are presented to the user or customer in a manner that they can understand and relate to.

 Slide 14

The main difference between the business and customer actionable catalog is that the business actionable catalog provides interfaces that can be used by the organizations users to use specific services that are provided internally within the organization while the customer actionable catalog provides interfaces that can be used by the organizations customers to use specific services that are provided externally from the organization.

The return on investment may be easier to quantify when customers using the customer actionable catalog interfaces to do business with the organization.

Internal business actionable catalogs may not be as easy to quantify an ROI and therefore may not be as feature rich or even properly funded.

But there are basic elements of any actionable service catalog that require careful consideration which include entitlement, security, language and popularity.

About Entitlement:

It is vital that only the people that should be able to access the actionable service catalog are entitled. Entitlement is the process whereby users and customers are authorized to have the appropriate level of access and rights in order to carry out a business process or a customer service.

In regards to the business actionable catalog certain employees may have limited access to the common and most frequently actionable business services.

Departments may have specific actionable services that only they can access and use.

Entitlements generally controlled by roles which are assigned to user accounts.

About Security:

This is an important consideration when customers are ordering goods and services from the customer actionable catalog. A secure payment method is required. Also information that is stored about customers must be handled and maintained in a secure manner and should follow to the relevant data protection acts that exist for the countries where the organization is providing the services. Data integrity is vital in order to ensure customer confidence and loyalty.

The Language

Whether it is the internal business actionable catalog or the customer actionable catalog ensure the correct localization of language – where providing actionable services in different countries – to mitigate against problems such as language and understanding.

And Popularity, which means ease of use:

In order to be successful, the actionable service catalog should be designed in such a way that it encourages both users and customers to come back and use it time after time.

Users repeatedly using the business actionable catalog will justify the cost to the organization in providing the services and increase the ROI. User productivity can be increased as requests can be handled and processed quicker, faster and smarter, for example by utilizing intelligent workflows for processing requests and of course automated service fulfillment.

An example of this is a user logging a service request or resetting passwords via a web portal instead of calling a help desk agent which is much more expensive.

Customers returning to an organization’s website and ordering or re-ordering goods and services contribute to the organization’s finances and also increase the ROI from the actionable customer service catalog. A key element to any web based strategy for a customer actionable catalog is to make it as easy as possible for the customer to do business with the organization from the most user-friendly environment that’s possible.

 Slide 15

An example of this is The Amazon. com interface is just so easy to use and navigate and it even recommends choices to the customer based on previous experience. Customers can manage their own accounts and track their orders to exactly where they are at that point in time.

Many other sites have now duplicated this functionality and make it so easy for the customer to do business with an organization.

All of these web-shops are the role models of your Service Catalog Portal. Their search and find optimization is exemplary. They are still providing hierarchical views of their products like it is recommended in many IT service management books for the catalog.

But in fact these views are not static but built dynamically by tags, categories and often depending on the user’s profile. These hierarchies are popular for non-specific shopping. As an example when I know I will buy a new children book for my daughter, then I will click on Children Books 10 to 12 years.

Or when I am new employee in your company I would click on Telephony in your Catalog to explore which type of mobile phones you are providing.

But in fact when I know what I want I will not click down a category tree to find it. I will simply enter the name of the thing I am searching for, into the search field and click on the first displayed result.

That’s what Amazon was learning from Google search.

And then I use the one-klick functionality to order and pay. That’s where Apple is great! Or did you ever fill endless web forms for buying something in the Appstore? Or did you ever see a popup on an apple device saying “Do you really want to start the music player?”

One thing is clear: Your Service Catalog Portal should never look like your IT Service Management Solution!

I will show you some examples provided by ServiceNow.

Service Now collected screenshots from some of their customers using the ServiceNow Service Catalog.

Be sure I don’t want to advertise ServiceNow, but I definitively want to advertise these good pratices.

 Slide 16

This is a screenshot from the User Self Service Service Management Portal of Nike Incorporated. It allows the Users to browse their assigned services and open requests, as well as submitting tickets, to request access and of course to buy services.

I had a customer where the management rejected such a modern interface. They thought their users are very familiar with the old interface because they were using it for several years.

We tested both interfaces with a simple trick. Every second user session was redirected to the old interface by a load balancer.

So the result was: User acceptance on the new interface was much higher. More than 90% of the users ordered something or opened a self-service-ticket. On the old interface 70% dropped off. They resigned and called the helpdesk by phone.

The idea was simply wrong that users are familiar with the old interface. They were using it twice in a year and forgot how to use it until next time.

In fact there is a high amount of requests and issues when a new employee is starting in a company. New hires are opening up to 30 requests and tickets in their first 3 month in the company. And they don’t need an old fashioned interface. All they know in common is Google and Amazon!

Slide 17

Independent of your business, you should be able to find a way to communicate to your users in a look and feel they know and they like.

Sephora is the leading chain of perfume and cosmetics stores in France and their users have one interface to their IT: This Service Management Portal

 Slide 18

Okay, this is Netflix. If you can not read the text under the images:

It says

  • I need Help
  • I need Access
  • I need a Production Change
  • I need Facilities
  • And, I need to Buy something
  • And look! There is an extra section for new arrivals too!

But here we come to the very important last screenshots:

 Slide 19

These are the mobile interfaces used by EMC internally.

Did you know that 2013 were sold nearly 200 Millions of Tablet Devices?

Do you know that 2013 were sold over 1 billion smartphones?

Since last year there are more device running on Android in place, than with all other operating systems together including Windows, iOS and Linux. Android is the most used operating system at the moment worldwide!

The possibility that someone will open your service catalog on a smart device is very very high.

Therefore you need a responsive technology to support multiple devices in different ways.

Amazon has, beside the proprietary app, also a different interface for smart devices.

Google too! Did you see it? When you search for an image on a smart device in Google, you can wipe trough the results exactly like in your local gallery.

One hint: Open your service catalog on one of your smart devices – Your Smartphone or your Tablet. Do you see everything you want to see? Can you read it? Can you reach all important functionality on a fingertip?

Let me ask another question:

How do you rate the web-shop, where you are buying things?

By their employees? No, because you don’t know them!

By their large warehouse? No, because you can’t see it!

By their high sophisticated logistic workflows? No, because you have no clue about it!

Employees do not know your data centers, your servers, your data stores, your availability concepts, your state of the art security processes.

All your employees usually know and see is your Service Management Portal!

They are happy when they can find all the things they are searching for in your Service Catalog.

And when you can deliver everything under the requested conditions and in time, your customers – your users will be happy about you, because their view of you, is like your view of Amazon.

To recap:

Slide 20

A number of service catalog types can exist in an org.

IT systems and IT services constitute the IT service catalog which is mainly used internal

The Business Service Catalog represents the services used by personnel within the organization, and is sitting on top of the technical catalog

The Customer Service Catalog represents the services used by the organizations’ customers

The Actionable Service Catalog enables users or customers to interact with IT.

While implementing a Service Catalog Portal take care of requirements, people, process and technology. It’s hard to add missed things later!

Only full portal functionality will support your requirements for the design of a state of the art actionable service catalog.

Your role models should be Amazon and Google.

And, you should develop a responsive user interface for smart devices, because they are established fact.

And finally:

Your customers see you through your Service Portal. And they will rate you, like you are rating your preferred Vendor!


Thank you for listening and watching this presentation.

Please be so kind and rate my presentation, to see if it was useful for you.

Unfortunately only a few minutes left for answering your questions.

 Slide 20

But you can write an email to me, or join us on our German speaking ITSM Blog Forum, too.

Thank You,

And I will start answering your questions now!

But in meantime please answer my last question to you, I prepared another vote:

Do you have such a Service Catalog Portal in place?

  • Yes, of course!
  • No, but I’m working on it!
  • No, but I would like to have one!
  • No, but I’m happy with mine!
  • Never ever! Ask me in five years again!

The answer to the question from the audience was recorded here.


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