Those who have worked with an IT department in nearly any capacity know the importance of a great service catalog. A well-crafted catalog streamlines incident management, reduces costs and benefits every employee from the highest executives to the newest of mail-room employees.
Service Comes First
Every service catalog should be designed with the customer in mind. All too often IT specialists fall into the pit of jargon. We’re all guilty of it. When you spend as much time as we do in the confines of server rooms and trade shows you’re bound to occasionally forget that not everybody speaks ‘your language.’ So drop any unnecessary lingo, keep it short and remember your catalog is only as strong as its weakest link.
So simplify it. Put your service catalog in easy to read, easy to understand language. Your services should read like a restaurant menu. Your customers should be able to read the menu items, understand the “ingredients” and choose what they’d like or need. Short but detailed descriptions are best, especially when coupled with recommendations of who may need the specific services.
Your catalog should be broken down. Whether that means by department, service areas, cost or another measure, it doesn’t matter. These sections, to continue with the restaurant analogy, would be your breakdown between pastas, sandwiches, entrees and appetizers. Except instead of mozzarella sticks, IT departments offer lap top repairs. And instead of a BLT you can expect database restructuring.
Learn from the Best
A great service catalog should be modeled after… you guessed it, great catalogs. And what better catalog to refer to than the world’s biggest and best, Amazon. Jeff Bezos and the team at Amazon have built one of the best interfaces to ever grace the web. Customers, even those with just an inkling of an idea, inherently know where to go and what to search for. They’re given reviews, descriptions and price. Your service catalog should work like this.
I’m not saying your catalog needs to look exactly like Amazon. Or eBay. Or even an Eddie Bauer catalog. But you should be able to pull all their best traits and compile it into your IT service catalog.
Make it Easy
The shopping cart was the best thing to happen to online shopping since the advent of online shopping. Customers can browse the ‘aisles’ pick up things they want and then review it once more before they start swiping their credit card. While your customers aren’t necessarily buying books or baby clothes, they are choosing the services that they need. Maybe they throw an Outlook consultation into their cart and later on down the road, realize they don’t need it. IT service catalogs should work like this. Likewise, from the backend of the catalog, executives and those on a ‘need to know’ basis should see more detailed information. This information might include the technician responsible, a breakdown of costs or other ‘insider’ information.
After services have been selected, processed and completed there needs to be a record. Who did what for whom, how much did it cost, how long did it take and what tools were necessary are just a few components of any good record. Business officials can then work with IT to develop future strategies based on services, offerings and cost. Lesser requested services get moved to the back burner or removed completely, daily tasks can be streamlined or automated. These reports offer valuable insight to everyone who may read them. A standardized report will lead to better quality of work, faster turnaround times and a general sense of respect for the IT department.
An IT service catalog is something that will be used every day. It will benefit your IT department, your business, your clients and everyone involved to take some time, plan it out and craft a successful catalog. With an easy to navigate, customer focused service catalog your business will be able to focus on what is truly important, your clients.
Author’s Bio: Richard Turkel is a system admin by trade but a writer by passion. His interest in computers began when he took apart his parents’ VCR player just to see how it worked. When Rich isn’t browsing the web or stuck in a server room he writes for BMC, supplier of fine IT services.