Thursday, April 14, 2011

Service Catalogue Project Pitfalls

One of the most difficult things to do when approached to create a service catalogue for an organization is to help them realize that it's almost impossible to quote them on the amount of work to be done when you don't know where they currently are or where they want to go.

Companies are often rightfully hesitant in engaging consultants in time-and-materials contracts when they cannot quantify the volume of work or the deliverable.  Often they have been burned by consultants who promise high value service catalogues only to deliver worthless documentation.

I struggled with this for a while.  Not knowing what documentation they currently have and not knowing what level of maturity they hope to obtain from their service catalogue makes quoting for a service catalogue creation or improvement project almost impossible.

My solution is to offer a fixed price or capped price project for the initial phases and then depending on the situation at the client, offer a fixed price or time and materials engagement for the production of the service catalogue processes and documentation.

The first phase is always a discovery phase.  Find out where the client is with respect to their service catalogue's maturity.  They always have some form of catalogue, even if they haven't identified it as such.  This phase also involves educating the client in what they could do with a highly functional catalogue and let them decide how far they want to take it and how many of their ITSM or ITIL processes they want to integrate into the service catalogue.  Usually the deliverables for this phase are strategy documents, a road map, SWOT analysis and RACI charts.  This phase identifies where they are and where they want to be and makes planning for all future phases much more accurate.

I am a big believer in the teach a man to fish philosophy so my next phase is for process definition.  Here is where we define the KPIs, catalogue update processes, governance structure, management processes and SLA measurement processes.

The third phase I recommend is for the actual production of a service catalogue entry as well as the education of the managers of the service catalogue processes.  By this point I usually have a good understanding of where the client is and wants to be as well as the capabilities of all the process participants. The client can be fairly confident in the scope of the number of catalogue entries they need me to mentor their staff into producing.

This phase is where we implement the service catalogue management processes and integrate them into other processes like change management, PMO requirements, incident management etc.  This also gives us a chance to implement the governance structure and measure for the KPIs while fine tuning any issues that arise.  This is also where catalogue entries start to get published for their intended audience.  This is also where you ensure that continuous improvement is built-in so that the process evolves as it needs to or as the situation changes.

This hopefully is where the engagement ends.  The client should have the capability to produce all other entries and to maintain a fully actionable service catalogue.  Some clients also prefer to expedite the production of their catalogue entries by extending the engagement to produce a fixed number of services or even their entire portfolio.

For more information on Service Catalogue engagements please contact

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