Tag Archives: Service Catalogue

Portfolio of Services

So having established what the building blocks for a service are we will now seek to demystify the subject of the Service Portfolio.

The Service Portfolio has three components – the Pipeline of chartered services, the operational Catalogue and the Retired services (withdrawn / mothballed / decommissioned).  

Page 24 of the Service Strategy book describes the need to define customer facing services and supporting services.  Customer facing is the only part of the Service Portfolio published to customers. The Service Catalogue sets out the discrete service assets and respective link to business activities and outcomes.  Therefore it is important to establish a catalogue of services that contribute to strategic business objectives. 

The Business Relationship Manager will work with the business customers to define the description of the new or changed service that is captured in the Service Catalogue.  In my experience there is no need for a customer agreement portfolio because it sounds transactional to me and not particularly partnerial.  The BRM should map business demand patterns (that require an increase in compute)  to appropriate services and provide advance notice of these changing requirements to the Service Owner in the Service Provider organisation.  Additionally the BRM should periodically check with the Business stakeholders whether the desired outcomes are still valid.

The Service Portfolio is viewed as the steward of the Service Assets that are key to delivering business objectives.  Service Portfolio Management is about making sure that the Service Portfolio has a comprehensive view of all the discrete services that are provided. The “good book” [Service Strategy] fails to distinguish between Internal and External Service Providers.  So in the diagram above the Service Portfolio should be owned by the Retained Organisation but the CMS and downstream information stores may be owned externally and will appear as a black box especially if they are Cloud Based Services.

The difference between the Service Pipeline and the Project Portfolio is not clear to me.  Most clients have a single integrated Investment Portfolio tool [e.g Clarity] from which they make informed decisions about how they will approve budget expenditure.  When a development project moves through the V Model [waterfall] or Agile development lifecycle the Service Provider should be engaged to conduct Operational Acceptance and Service Readiness. Given this, why do we need a Project Portfolio in the Service Management Knowledge System?

The Service Catalogue is the single source of consistent information on all the operational (live and testing?) services and those being prepared to be run operationally [Service Transition]. It identifies business units and customer groups. There is limited value in defining the supporting services {Technical View] because these are likely to be outsourced to a lower cost provider.  In this example the CMS has a core set of Configuration Items that relate to Information and Applications rather than physical technical components.  Where open source code is in use then distributed version control systems which are available in the cloud [gitHUB] should be considered.

There is no single correct way to structure and deploy the Service Catalogue.  Each Service Provider organisation should consider their current and evolving needs. Service Design Page 58 states that the Service Architecture provides the independent business integrated approach to delivering services and the management of those services.  

If you are keen to understand how best to structure your Service Catalogue you could identify your Service Assets in the form of Capabilities and Resources which could be very helpful because the guidance provided in the Service Design core volume is not consistent. 

On page 55 there is a list of typical items that should be included in the Service Catalogue:  Service Name,  Service Version,  Service Description,  Service Status,  Service Classification and Criticality, Applications Used, Data and/or data schema used, Business process supported, Business Owners, Business Users, IT Owners, Warranty level, SLA and  SLR references, Supporting services, Supporting resources, Dependent services, Supporting OLAs, contracts and agreements, Service costs, Service charges, Service revenue, Service metrics. 

The same core volume in Appendix G page 335 Table G.1 provides the following Service catalogue example:  Service description, Service type, Supporting services, Business owners, Business units, Service owners, Business impact, Business priority, SLA, Service hours, Business contacts, Escalation contacts, Service reports, Service reviews, Security rating.

A good place to start is to request to view the Business Continuity Plan [Red Book or online version] which describes the critical Business Processes and their key outputs.  This document also sets out the regulatory, reputational and financial risk to the business in the event of loss of business capability.  In addition the impact on the customer experience is also listed [e.g number of customers impacted if the ATM service is down for an hour on the last Friday in the month].  When these requirements are captured it is then possible to create a meaningful and relevant service catalogue incorporating some of the parameters listed above.

With respect to Retired services this should be classified as a status flag in the Service Catalogue. 

Providing Information Services to the Business



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Service Catalogue Options

A Service Catalogue can be a structured (Word / Excel) document located in a Sharepoint folder accessible from any location.  This option provides a way of documenting specific requirements.

Alternatively Webpages and Web-Forms can be created which are available via the Intranet.  However most organisations will jump to the COTS solution.  Here are a few vendors:

ServiceNow has doubled their annual contract values Year on Year for the last five years.   Their service portfolio management solution transforms IT-speak into a language the business understands and cares about. They call it the language of IT 3.0. 

CA Service Catalog helps you increase value by communicating service offerings in rich, descriptive business language

CA Oblicore Guarantee (TM) accelerates the monitoring, reporting, and management of the service portfolio

Axios – to assist with the rapid deployment of the service catalog Axios provides a complete set of service structure and content templates.  Axios also offer a service catalog strategy workshop to jump start the process.  Axios are the worlds leading “independent” software provider.  Martin advised that the key word is independent and that Axios stick to their knitting which is to invest in their Assyst product suite.  

HP Cloud Service Catalog (Beta) ” Project Coral” –  effectively manage the service portfolio based on cost, quality of service and user feedback 

IBM CloudBurst – Automate service delivery and help save operating costs through a self-service portal and service catalog

BMC – Enable all areas of your business with a consistent, accurate view of IT services with BMC Software’s Service Catalog

Newscale acquired by Cisco – Publish a menu of standardized service offerings in an online catalog.  Newscale technology will serve as the storefront for [Cisco] Cloud services with its Amazon-like interface

A key point to remember is that the Service Catalogue solution of service offerings to the Business  should not include Service Request Fulfillment.  For example you cannot request a new service via a tool rather it is an informed discussion with the Business Relationship Manager.  If a user wants to order something in particular, then they will typically use a different best of breed solution e.g. Ariba.  So don’t dilute the value of the Service Catalog. 

The Vendors will respond that in a world of Cloud Based Services a user should be able to self-provision.  That is fine as an argument if you are talking about technical components in a virtualised “On Demand” world.  How many organisations are there yet?  The school answer is that Service Requests are part of the Service Desk solution, they are not required functionality of the Service Catalog.

Business Services Catalog – the Evolution


Samantha Reed has produced this presentation on the evolution of the Business Services catalog.  On slide 5 and 7 the Technical Services Catalog is shown.  As we move more of these capabilities and resources to 3rd Party Service Providers we will only need to capture information at the level of Service Assets not drill down into the detail of configuration items because the CMDB will be managed externally.   


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