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ITIL :: View topic - Exposing an IT Service Catalog
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Exposing an IT Service Catalog

 
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ah
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 2:08 pm    Post subject: Exposing an IT Service Catalog Reply with quote

I'm inquiring as to how companies have internally exposed their IT service catalogs to their IT & business customers. We are currently considering the development of a SharePoint website to do this. Has anyone used SharePoint? If not, what's the trend.

Thanks.
ah
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Guerino1
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Ah,

We've seen multiple implementations. Usually prospects bring us in to replace what they have with our own.

We've seen:

1) Static Web Pages with Links to Forms.
This is pretty straight forward. Most forms generate email requests to the appropriate teams that do the work. The teams store the emails and related threads but have no metrics gathering, measurement, trending, or reporting solutions. Usually adequate for smaller companies.

2) Online Spreadsheets, with embedded links to forms.
Same as #1 but the entry point is a spread sheet rather than a web page. Again, usually adequate for smaller companies.

3) Custom built Service Catalog Applications.
Always a nightmare. Some developer thinks it's cool to build his/her own solution then the company gets stuck/embedded in it to the point where they have to keep sinking money, time, energy, and infrastructure into it to keep it going, especially as technologies become antiquated or organizations grow. In this case the executives are miserable by the time we enter. We've seen many different implementations in the "custom development" space. Many even include the use of very expensive 3rd party portals, such as the one you mentioned. In the end, very few stakeholders, if any, are happy with the custom application. Another gotcha in this space is the fact that the developers never realized how expensive and complicated it would be to tie Business Intelligence and Reporting solutions to the custom application they built. Most people only think of the small handful of requirements that stare them in the face. Very few look years ahead, thinking: "We'll deal with it when we have to." We see this come back to bite them in the rears, more often than not.

4) Purchased 3rd Party Service Catalog and Service Request Systems.
A little better but still limited as it's a dedicated and silo-ed solution that doesn't cleanly integrate to other systems/tools that are necessary to operate. The problem we see, here, is that many companies don't keep the 3rd party solution upgraded properly and it quickly becomes many revisions behind the most recently supported versions, incurring logistical nightmares for the enterprise that owns the mess.

We fall into #4 with a twist. Our Service Management platform, which has embedded Service Catalog and Service Request solutions, is fully integrated to the other ITIL operational disciplines as well as the CMDB, itself. This means that users can see relationships between Services, Stakeholders, Service Requests, Documents, Organizations, Products, Etc. all from one place, like they would the relationships between Assets, Products, Stakeholders, Documents, etc.

If you use SharePoint, you will probably be in the position of #3, within a year or two.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
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ah
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Frank. Those are some good points, which we'll definitely want to be sensitive to. After some further conversation on this end, we're choosing to continue with SharePoint for the initial roll-out, understanding that we may need something more robust in the future. In this first stage, we'll develop a word doc as our service catalog and post that on our SharePoint site. If you happen to have any examples of service catalogs in Word doc format and don't mind sharing them, that would be great.

Regards.
ah
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TemperedMeasures
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank hit some of the major ones above. I've also seen business relationship managers act as the communicators of the service catalog, service level agreement, etc. They can work with the business community to get the catalog "introduced/updated" and in cases where the catalog is really only for high-end items, they may act as a "request manager".

Dan Vogel
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RayValentine
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 12:37 pm    Post subject: Service Catalog Reply with quote

AH,

I agree with Frank. I have worked in an environment using static webpages, spreadsheets and even Sharepoint.

Sharepoint is a promising tool and seems very easy to manage, the problem I have had is in resources and control. As our processes mature and we want to extend functionality, I have to get development time to make changes. Usually what I get back is not what I want.

I prefer Franks option 3, a tool built to do this.

Opening up your Service Catalog to the user community is a good thing, you need to make them a part of the process, they are why you do IT. Starting out with the Word docs and Sharepoint is probably a good place to start, just be aware as you mature you are going to want and need more. Don't let this scare you off, document and firm up your processes, and just keep making progress.
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marchred
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm just starting out on an enterprise wide Services Catalogue and have been googling development of same - I've found some quite good sites for presentation of the catalogue to the user community and have to agree with the genral tone here - it's probably best to develop it

As our catalogue will be housed in a database we will probably use .Net to present it dynamically (via our intranet), as we have different services provided to different client groups and it would be nice to tailor it to display only those services they can access
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Guerino1
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello MarchRed,

I think many people believe that building their own is a good solution until they see what a real Service Catalog looks like and what it should do. A good Service Catalog is a huge undertaking and there are entire companies dedicated to the design, development, and selling of such solutions. Unless you and your organization are specialists in this type of thing, you will come up with a very incomplete, highly limited, and very unusable solution that will very likely "turn off" your internal stakeholders from wanting to use it.

We find that most people that want to "build" their own solutions, usually try to make themselves believe what they "want" to believe. If you're company is not in the business of providing "Service Catalog Solutions" to it's customers, then building your own is a direct expense that will divert from the success of your enterprise, since it's not your enterprise's core expertise to build such solutions. We find that most developers are not experienced enough to understand the bigger picture and longer term costs, especially when factoring the limitations of their solutions as compared to the growth and future needs of their enterprise.

My recommendation is that you look hard for a commercial solution that's better than anything you can provide, yourself. One that will continue to grow and keep pace with the market faster, better, and cheaper than you could do so, yourself. In doing so, you will stop wasting your company's valuable time, energy, and resources on implementing a solution that other companies have already implemented before. This will ensure that you don't reinvent the wheel, which is exactly what ITIL is all about.

However, you seem to have already convinced yourself that you want to build your own and that is what you will probably do. My sympathies to your company. ; )

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

Regards,
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marchred
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank

Thank you for the feedback.

At this stage, the intention here is to baseline services that are currently being provided, rather than develop a "Service Request & Management System".

I stand ready to be corrected, but from what I've seen of commercial products to date, the Service Catalogues provided are a bit of a misnomer in that they are "all singing and all dancing" at a price commensurate with that level. I have had a look at newScale's product and it was far in excess of what we are looking for at the moment - and I couldn't find a lot of others.

We basically want our clients to be able to see what services we provide and what the service level parameters (availability or response times, if they exist) are for each service. Literally a catalogue of services and nothing more. Also, we are not only listing IT services but also building management and facilities, in-house broadcasting, transcription, etc.

We are an ITIL following organisation in respect of incident, problem, config, change and release management but each of the service categories I have listed in the previous para has their own MIS's and incident management systems and I doubt they would have heard of or even care to hear of ITIL.

Once we have finished the baselining of existing services we will be looking to establish SLA's and OLA's for as many of the services as possible and it may be decided to go for a full blown Service request Management approach - in which case the cost of the aforementioned products nay be justified.

As I said before, more than happy to be corrected on what may be a jaundiced view, but at the end of the day, we still have to justify the expense.

Again, thank you for your feedback and I hope I've clarified the task we are undertaking.

Cheers

Mark
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m_croon
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark,

A fool with a tool is still a fool. Razz

No offence intended, on the contrary. Maybe my reaction is a bit short, but it seems you can do with good ole' excel for the first 6 months. Make a column 'service', a column 'date', a column 'status' (proposed, operational etc.), and columns for any service level parameter you'd like to add (k.i.s.: availability%, service window, supt window, maintenance window).

Present it (maybe through PDF) from any website. It seems to me that after baselining is complete and all parties involved have a better insight in the actual services, you'll have a much better idea what you want from a tool.

Cheers,

Michiel
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Guerino1
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Gentlemen,

One thing you can find, consistently, in other threads is that I firmly believe that you "can" get away with using spreadsheets for a period of time and I do recommend doing so for as long as you can. However, this will break down as you reach growth and scaling points. At this point you will have to explore something more elaborate.

What I don't believe is that you should get involved in building your own solutions, when it gets to the point that spreadsheets don't cut it. And, here's why...

If I sit with any of your organizations' leaders and break down the "real" costs and complexities of what it takes to build and maintain your own solutions, as well as what little you will have in return for your time, money, and energy spent, I have yet to come across a C-Level executive who doesn't get it. There is no C-Level executive, in his or her right mind, that "wants" to build something that doesn't have anything to do with their core business and for which they know they can get a better solution on the open market. They have other things in mind for their resources that usually line up with their vertical business goals.

If you are pitching "building your own", you may want to seriously reconsider it.

Mark, there are many solutions providers out there. If you are looking to build/buy, I highly recommend you take the time to look at as many as you possibly can. Sure, there are many that are overrated and/or overpriced but there are also others that will work with you to meet your needs and your budget. We are one of the available vendors and we find that the minute we show decision makers what we offer and what value they get for their money, it is very rare that they will let their employees build their own. In truth, we find that most people that try to build their own are doing so because they "want" to do it or because they really haven't taken the time to understand what's out there.

And, I agree with Michiel that you attempt to leverage spreadsheets for as long as you can get away with it because it will help you understand what you want from a tool when you finally do go out and look for one.

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

Regards,
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marchred
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michiel/Frank

Thank you for the quick responses to my posts. It's encouraging to see that this forum is alive and well, and that members do take time to offer what is, believe me, well-received advice.

Gentlemen, believe it or not, I think we are on the same track here. When I say "we are going to develop our own Service Catalogue", I do not mean a service level management system or a service request management system, I mean simply a catalogue of services. I agree that a PDF'd spreadsheet will do the trick, but as you have identified it doesn't allow for easy growth of the services and thus the catalogue and each change means a manual re-PDF'ing and uploading of the document. (Mind you, once we have our services definned and in place, we see that the only way a service will cahnge or a new service be added is via a Project Initiation process and subsequent Change Management.)

[I think I omitted a very important characteristic of our place - we are an a Australian government department which provides support to Federal politicians. Surprisingly, the services they receive do not change that often and organisational growth is not happening at a fast rate - rather the exact opposite, there is a trend to getting back to providing services as writ, hence the need for a definitive catalogue.]

Frank, I was simply intending to create a database with the items Michiel has correctly identified and use our intranet to present the results. It will have a simple facility for searching (probably just a key word index) and also a hierarchical structure so users can quickly locate a service either way.

At this stage I think the important thing is to quantify the services so clients know what is available (definition), when it's available (availability), how they access it (access) and where applicable, the time-frames around the service (service level) and that executive know what the success measures are for the service (KPI's). Certainly down the track, when the department is ready to move into formal service level and service request management, then I think that professional package would be needed.

I don't see there being a great deal of development in this objective. We have skilled web programmers who are quite able to retrieve and display the information we have design templates for the presentation layer.

I will take your advice though, Frank, and scan the web for any companies in Australia which offer service catalogue development capabilities to see if we can get a demo of their product.

Again, gentlemen, thank you for your advice

Cheers

Mark
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m_croon
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe the following site could be of some help:
w3 dot toolselector dot com

Cheers,

Michiel
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marchred
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Michiel -- I'll check it out

Cheers

Mark
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