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IT service catalogs moving beyond walls of IT

IT service catalogs are apparently back in vogue.

The cloud, in part, is driving this renewed interest. People want to use IT service catalogs to manage cloud services that are delivered to various business units, and charge them appropriately for the use of these services.

Another factor is that the demand for them never went away — the money did.

According to Lisa Erickson-Harris, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., a survey of EMA clients showed that 16% have already deployed an IT service catalog as part of their ITSM strategy, and another 56% plan to deploy a catalog. The study is a year old, but the demand is still there.

“IT service catalogs are a very hot priority for IT service managers,” she said during a webinar this week by EMA.

And IT service catalogs are set to start managing items beyond the walls of IT. The facilities department can use IT service catalogs to track office space or building codes, or the transportation department could use it to schedule maintenance for truck fleets.

The possibilities are endless, but they may not ever enter the business realm if IT does not first deliver on its promises.

She advises business to start small — pilot a project, test out catalog items and how the system works, before you introduce it to the entire company.

You can have all the IT systems working well behind the scenes, but if the IT service catalog is not in sync with those back-end systems, the project could be sunk.

“An IT service catalog can give IT credibility, or give IT negative publicity … there is risk involved, and that’s because [the catalog] is the front office. It’s what people see, and what IT will be judged on.”

An IT service catalog is no small undertaking — it involves setting policies for what employees can and cannot buy, establishing and living up to SLAs and back-end system integration. Or, does it really need to be that difficult? From what I’ve heard, many IT shops have built a catalog pretty quickly using SharePoint.

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