19 min read

Using ITSM to Effectively Manage Your Service Catalog Software

December 9, 2021

67% of customers prefer using self-service over speaking to a support agent. 

Unsurprisingly, as more organizations digitize, the IT department and customer-facing helpdesk have become integral components of business operations.   

A service catalog is an easy way to present IT or support service options to end-users and help organize submissions for IT technicians so they can resolve tickets faster.  

Read on for more insight into how a service catalog works, what helpful service catalog tools are, and how ITSM software empowers easy customer management and faster ticket resolution.  

What is an ITSM Service Catalog? 

An ITSM service catalog, also know as an IT service catalog, is a centralized collection of information that details all the service offerings a support team can offer to either internal users (in-house employees) or external users (customers, business partners, etc.). In other words, it’s a complete menu or portfolio of services that the IT department can perform. 

A Brief History of ITSM Service Catalogs 

Towards the end of the 20th century, businesses started incorporating more IT services into their standard processes and customer services. It soon became apparent that keeping track of available IT resources would require detailed documentation.  

This led to the evolution of the IT service catalog, which emerged from the information technology infrastructure library (ITIL). ITIL is a framework that provides best practices for implementing IT Service Management (ITSM) by establishing set processes and checklists that help a business develop an effective strategy.  

The ITSM service catalog was officially introduced in 2007 as a best practice of ITIL v3 for managing IT services. Since then, ITSM service catalogs and similar databases have become necessary for businesses looking to deliver consistent, valuable, user-centric IT services. 

What is an IT Service Catalog vs. a Self-Service Portal? 

An ITSM service catalog lists all the IT services available within an organization, along with relevant descriptions, service level agreements (SLAs), and pricing. It is primarily used by IT service management teams to manage and deliver IT services to their customers. 

On the other hand, a self-service portal is a customer-facing application that allows end users to request IT services or resolve IT issues without contacting the ITSM team directly. The self-service portal can provide access to the ITSM service catalog.

It also allows users to perform tasks such as resetting passwords, accessing knowledge base articles, and requesting service changes. 

Who Uses ITSM Service Catalogs?  

Both end-users and service desk teams use a service catalog.   

1. End Users 

Users interact with a service catalog to view service offerings with information like category, price, or other relevant service-level specifications. From this storefront view, they can choose what they will need and submit a request that references a specific service type.  

2. IT Service Desk 

An IT department will also have access to a complete service catalog, but the technician side can be thought of as a more thorough technical database of instructions, information, workflows, or other relevant processes that they need to help assist with requests.

The IT department will act as the service catalog manager as they determine what kinds of services they will offer.

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ITSM Service Catalog Examples 

An ITSM service catalog covers all services, from hardware issues to HR tasks. Some examples of how a service catalog is used are: 

Example 1: Shipping & Delivery 

A customer who subscribes to a clothing subscription app didn’t receive her order in the mail, and now she needs help tracking her package. She logs onto the app and navigates to the Support page.  

Once she arrives, she is presented with various category options in the ITSM service catalog that her request might fall under, including Billing, Login & Account, Returns or Exchanges, and Shipments & Delivery. The customer chooses “Shipments & Delivery” as the appropriate category.  

A service rep reviews her request, knows in advance what she needs help with, and is prepared with the technical instructions on how to solve the issue. The customer and rep connect, and they eventually resolve the ticket.   

Example 2: Service/Hardware Interruption 

 A developer at a software company is having trouble with her computer; it’s working slower than usual, and service is frequently interrupted. She submits a request to the internal IT service portal and selects “computer & hardware” as the service category.

A helpdesk rep receives her request, and starts immediately working within a pre-built workflow designed for the service category.   

Example 3: Employee Onboarding 

A hiring manager from HR needs to set up a new employee with proper access, passwords, payroll hardware, and more.

Rather than deal with many back-and-forth emails, they can view the ITSM service catalog and submit standardized requests for obtaining IT assets, setting up the workspace, and other employee onboarding necessities. 

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Top ITSM Service Catalog Features 

ITSM software promotes better catalog management for the IT department and delivers a smoother end-user support experience. Here are the service catalog tools an ITSM platform might include and how they create a better organization. 

Request Types and Forms  

ITSM software empowers you to build a service catalog, often times starting with request types. Request types are the in-app service categories you can create and customize according to your business needs or typical user requests.  

Within your ITSM platform, you can add things like the category, the request type name, a default ticket title for internal purposes, and a default ticket template that appears in the body of the ticket.

Request types also allow you to specify items like the assigned team, status, priority level, service type, and sub-service type.  

The most helpful way to use your request types for customers is to create custom forms associated with each type. This way, end-users have a more direct, guided experience submitting information with their tickets.  

Approvals and Workflows   

Your ITSM software should have automated workflows and approval settings, which are beneficial service catalog tools. For example, you can configure certain request types to trigger approval workflows after a user submits a form associated with that request type.

This streamlines the technician’s entire ticket resolution process and standardizes the procedures for each service offering from the catalog.  

Learning Hub & Self-Support  

Sometimes, users might have a quick question they’d like to solve themselves or be interested in learning more about service offerings or general support topics. In these cases, quality ITSM platforms offer several tools to enhance the service catalog.  

For example, some ITSM software providers offer the option to include a video within a support form, giving more detail to the end user on the service offering associated with the request type.

Further, the service catalog manager may publish content in the user service portal explaining the service types in detail. 

The Benefits of Using an ITSM Service Catalog  

Implementing an ITSM service catalog benefits organizations that offer any IT service, regardless of size. 

  1. Higher User Satisfaction: When a user selects an offering from a service catalog, techs are given important information that will help them resolve the ticket before ever speaking to the user. This streamlined communication boosts CSAT and reduces customer churn. 
  2. Increased Self-Service Capabilities: A service catalog allows users to solve their issues autonomously without speaking with an agent. When users have easy access to the answers they’re looking for, it saves time for both customers and agents. 
  3. Heightened Visibility: With robust data analytics and reporting, ITSM service catalogs can demonstrate what service offerings are chosen most frequently, how quickly they’re resolved, and more. This helps organizations continuously improve their services based on the most common problems.

ITSM Service Catalog Best Practices 

While ITSM service catalogs are always helpful, there are several best practice recommendations that you should follow when creating your catalog.

To learn more about these best practices, visit the blog 6 Best Practices for Creating a Service Catalog in DeskDirector. These best practices apply regardless of your ITSM solution, and we’ll recap a few of them here: 

  • Talk to your clients: Find out what would be helpful to them and show them how the catalog works to ensure a seamless transition. 
  • Analyze support requests: Collaborate with the help desk team to note historical service requests, which should always inform your catalog. 
  • Convert request types into forms: Forms allow your users to talk about their tickets quickly and give techs the upfront information they need to resolve issues efficiently. 
  • Remind and reward: Incentivize your customers to utilize the ITSM service catalog to make it a widely-used system. Thank them or even send a gift card the first time they use the catalog.  

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing a Service Catalog 

Service catalog best practices show that there’s a right way to create your catalog, and there’s also a wrong way! Here are some common mistakes to avoid when developing and implementing your catalog: 

  • Starting too big: When starting with a service catalog, IT teams are often tempted to create as many generic requests as possible to create an extensive offering menu. It’s better to start with a few specific request types that are actually relevant to the customer. 
  • Providing endless options: Don’t go overkill with what you’re offering. You can help users avoid decision paralysis by keeping your catalog options streamlined and concise so customers have no trouble finding what they need. 
  • Having untagged items: Including meta-tags enables you to search for catalog items within a self-service portal, but many overlook this feature. Be sure to populate the meta-tags in your catalog. 
  • Using overly complex workflows: Most service catalogs allow you to categorize, subcategorize, and so on so that your services are part of a nested hierarchy. Avoid complex categorization and lengthy workflows that make for a sub-optimal user experience. 


6 Steps for Implementing an ITSM Service Catalog into Your System 

Now that you know the best practices for implementing your ITSM service catalog (and what common mistakes to avoid), the next step is building and implementing one and seamlessly integrating it into your current operations. You can get started by following these steps: 

  1. Identify key goals and stakeholders: The first step is deciding your business goals, how your catalog can help achieve them, and who are the key players involved in this process. 
  2. Document all service offerings: Then, it’s time to define, categorize, and write down every service you offer. Consulting agents and IT managers is a great way of creating this comprehensive list.  
  3. Create service fulfillment strategy: Next, document which teams, groups, or techs will complete each service and map the appropriate workflows. Every service you listed in step 2 should have a resolution process.  
  4. Design your catalog: Once you have your fulfillment strategy, it’s time to design your catalog. This should be user-centric, accessible, and feature easy-to-use capabilities like dynamic forms. Make sure to iterate and frequently test at this stage. 
  5. Publish service catalog: After testing your catalog, it’s time to publish it. Publish your catalog in phases to make a slow and seamless transition, and integrate the catalog with the self-service portal for a cohesive user experience. 
  6. Training and iteration: Finally, train your entire team to use the catalog effectively, obtain feedback from internal and external users, and make changes to the catalog based on analysis and feedback. 

ITSM Service Catalog: The Conclusion 

Your service catalog is essential for delivering scalable, efficient IT processes to all users. ITSM tools simplify service catalog organization and automate support processes so your IT team can get more done.   

Looking for an ITSM solution that levels up your service catalog, improves user experience, and drives operation efficiency? Sign up to try DeskDirector! 


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