In the old days, when a business unit required a new application or piece of infrastructure, it would go to the IT department and engage in a long process that started with requirements and ended with a long procurement and deployment phase.
By the time of implementation, the reasons for initiating the project may have dissipated or the potential advantage to the business may have already been leveraged by a faster moving competitor.
Now, the availability of commoditized technology delivered “as a service” via the Internet means we are less focused on specific hardware and software. Rather, it’s all about the outcome—and in today’s dynamic and high-risk world, this is critical when it comes to protecting your company’s most precious resource: its data.
In order for your technology delivery team to get on the front foot, it needs to work with the business to determine what outcomes it is trying to deliver and assemble a portfolio of solutions that can meet those needs and be adequately supported.
A services catalog—a curated list of services the IT group can deliver—provides assurance that IT can meet and support the requirements of the business in a timely way.
When users approach IT to help achieve a specific outcome, IT can identify one or more services, what other services might also be needed if there are dependencies, service-level agreements in place, associated costs, how to request a service, how services are delivered, and support and escalation points and key contacts.
The end result is business people can approach IT with certainty. Instead of the old “we’ll process your request—eventually” reply, a services catalog shifts the conversation straight to a discussion about achieving business outcomes. A comprehensive catalog also outlines best practices, specifications, and parameters for designing and managing the services over time.
So, how do you create a services catalog that drives outcome-based service delivery?
The process starts with identifying a team that has broad knowledge of the business’s needs and what services are available both inside and outside the enterprise’s data center. While it will be tempting to try to be all things to all people, decide on the scope of the catalog, outlining specific business services to include. By starting with an achievable goal—for example, defining services for disaster recovery—you’ll gain expertise in identifying and aligning services that deliver tangible outcomes to the business.
A critical element of the services catalog is defining what support will be available for each service and who will be responsible for delivering it. This is a key step and should not be glossed over.
In order for the services catalog to be useful to business people, it needs to be presented in their terms. Ensure the catalog has a business-friendly front end so users can easily identify the services they need and how to access them.
At the same time, the catalog needs a technical face so the IT team understands what it needs to do to activate a new service.
Finally, there should be an agreed-upon change management process for updating the catalog as new services are added or existing ones are updated or discontinued.
Armed with this information, you can design a process for bringing outcome-based service delivery to your business.