Service Catalog 101

Erika Flora
Written by Erika Flora

Building a Service Catalog is one of those things you probably mean to do, but keep putting off (like going to the dentist or calling your mom). But imagine if you opened a restaurant without a menu? How would your customers know what you serve? How would you know which ingredients to order for the kitchen? That scenario is exactly what’s playing out for organizations without Service Catalogs, except without the outraged Yelp reviews (that they know of).

A Service Catalog is an easy way to bring value to your organization while demonstrating the value you bring to it. All the more reason to have one in place. But, you’re probably wondering, where to start? We’re glad you asked, because we needed a way to introduce the following list of suggestions:

Get all your stakeholders together in a room and ask them what you do.

Make sure you have lots of colorful sticky notes. And colorful markers. Plus refreshments. Everybody loves refreshments. You’ll want to involve your customers – not because they are always right but because they will have great insights on what your services are, not to mention which ones they use, and which ones they don’t. This will not only help you define and group services into categories, it will lead to better decision-making and management of your resources. (The fact that you are doing this is already proof of better decision-making, so yay you!)

Look at your most requested services for guidance.

As in your greatest hits. They’re not only the ones that are likely to be the most defined, leading to solid work flow, but they have serious value. That’s a word we really value: value.

Look at what others in your industry have done in terms of defining and categorizing their services.

It’s not cheating. Honest.


Ready to take this a step further?
Our free Service Catalog template is a great place to start.



Consider having an outside facilitator involved.

Trust us. You can get so caught up in trying to define services and how to handle changes space and time will seem to bend in on themselves, so you’ll need someone to bring you back to reality and help get that catalog done.  We have a fun, interactive two-day Service Catalog workshop and follow-up coaching that will support you along the way.

Don’t strive for perfection.

This is about getting a catalog in place that makes sense to everyone, not creating a timeless literary masterpiece like War and Peace. That will come later, because you’re going to…

Identify a catalog manager.

Someone is going to need to maintain the catalog, which means you will also need to have a defined process for adding, changing, and removing services from it. Then, it will be their job to worry about it being perfect.

Release it.

Don’t just keep it in IT like it is some sacred secret text. Put it where people can find it. And use it. After all, that’s the whole point of this exercise. You might even ask your customers how they’d like to access it, since they’ll be using it. And they will.

Like Rome, a service catalog isn’t built in a day. You’ll probably want to block out a couple of weeks for it, but once you have one in place, you’ll have an invaluable tool that not only eases customer interactions but also helps you train new IT staff, or even prioritize services for disaster recovery. And then, you’ll have more time to call mom, or finally get to the dentist.

Need help in creating or revising your service catalog?  Request a free, no obligation, 30-minute consultation with one of our ITIL Expert consultants, here.

(PS: Our free Service Catalog template is a great place to start, too.)

Originally published November 11 2016, updated January 01 2019
ITIL/ITSM