IT can enhance its ‘customer experience’ with a service catalogue

04 October 2021 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read
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For any organisation in today’s digital world, moving IT from a back-office function to a true business partner role reaps significant benefits. A strategic roadmap that integrates IT at every step ultimately improves business outcomes. 

Jonathan (Jono) Jones, a technology business management expert from Synergy Group, works with IT leaders to maximise the value of their IT investment. He says a genuine ‘IT business’ sees its users as customers, then supplies them with the services they need. And progressive CIOs know that a particularly useful tool for delivering these services is a user-friendly service catalogue. 

Know what users want

“When IT departments set themselves up as a customer-centric business partner, with the customer being the either an internal or an external IT user, they can better match supply with demand,” explains Jono. “Yet we see too many organisations falling at the first hurdle of not being able to define what it is they provide.”

Define your IT service catalogue

Being able to set up a clearly defined list of IT products and services is one thing, but it has to match what customers actually need. “This means supplying users with services they choose to consume based on the price of the service and their desire to consume at that price. This process of matching supply and demand within an organisation (corporate and government alike) can pay huge benefits in terms of promoting efficient use of IT resources while elevating the status of IT in the organisation.” 

Keep it simple

A service catalogue of hundreds of IT services and products may be daunting for users – especially if users don’t always know what it is they need. “We often see organisations over-complicating the service descriptions and confusing the customer,” says Jono. “The first step is packaging IT into services that make sense to the customer and organising them into a business-facing service catalogue.” 

“Think of how services are bundled so that the user gets what they need in as few steps as possible. For example, if a customer wants to order a laptop, they may not realise they also need to order network access and an email service to get a functioning device. The catalogue needs to bundle the right services together and make the ordering process as streamlined as possible.” 

“Build an easy interface rather than a confusing mix of items so it’s clear what it is they are ordering,” says Jono. “Think of it as an online shopping cart experience where the service is clearly defined, they know what they will get, when it will be delivered, and what level of service to expect.” 

A simpler service catalogue based on user needs also makes meaningful service costing more achievable. “This in turn provides the internal customer with greater comfort that they’re getting fair value and can make decisions on what IT services they require and what they don’t.” 

Language matters

Many organisations also make the mistake of describing their services in IT language rather than plain language. “We saw a customer with over 400 services with technical details the end user didn’t understand or care about,” explains Jono. “With smarter packaging, the business reduced the number of IT services to 50, while simplifying the service descriptions.” 

Putting packaged services into a business-facing service catalogue in well-defined user language makes a big difference to the end user. But Jono also suggests you shouldn’t throw out the technical catalogue completely. 

“There’s still a place for a technical catalogue. The technical details can be organised into a framework with lower layer technical services providing the building blocks for the business-facing services. At this layer it’s simpler to define and commit to services levels (often referred to as operating level agreements) because they are measured in terms that make sense to the operations team.”

“The framework identifies the dependencies of the technical services to support the service levels agreed with the customer. This not only helps with costing of services, but it ensures that the service levels are built on foundations that operations can trace and support.” 

“There are many other things to consider when running IT as a business. Setting up a reliable service catalogue is just one way to demonstrate IT excellence and efficiency,” concludes Jono.