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A service catalog is a customer-facing menu of IT or business services (generally for internal customers) that helps categorized and manage service order processing and management.
The concept of a service catalog was formalized with the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) methodology, created by the United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC). It is a powerful way to create a customer-facing view of business and IT services, to coordinate the management of those services, and to measure service performance.
The key to an effective service catalog is to make the menu of services (i.e. the categories and sub-categories) customer-centric. Ideally the services should be in the context of business outcomes and in language the customer understands. To this end, when designing a service catalog, it is best to talk to customers about the services they require, and the way they prefer to frame their requests.
Some organizations begin with the back-end service delivery departments and explore what services they offer and build a service catalog from there. This is generally a mistake, as it leads to a service catalog that is not customer-centric.
A good practice is to offer a service catalog with multiple views, perhaps one by category, another showing the full suite of services alphabetically, and another showing specific services by major business function. It is also good practice to allow the customer to check the status of their service requests.
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