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The steering wheel for IT services: Using a service catalog with SIAM


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By Markus Mueller


Global Lead Architect for SIAM, HP Software Professional Services


Many of our customers know they need to become service-driven IT organizations. They are taking steps in this direction at the same time that they are also trying to manage multiple suppliers. We’re at a point in IT where these two areas are converging.


If you can successfully manage multiple IT service providers and simultaneously become service driven, you will be much more efficient and responsive to business needs. So how do you accomplish this? I’ve been working with customers in several industries to make this journey. The answer is using a service catalog in conjunction with service integration and management. (Learn more in this white paper: Be an IT services broker.)


Service catalog: The tipping point to becoming service driven

In my opinion, the answer to whether you can truly become service driven or not lies in the capability of how you manage your service catalog. It is the steering wheel of the service organization. Providing a catalog is a critical ingredient for effective service delivery, but how well a catalog is designed can significantly “tip the scales” as to its effect on the efficiency and responsiveness of IT. In fact, I would say the service catalog is one of the most underestimated investment areas for gaining benefits from service management. Why?


Think about what you need to create a successful service catalog:

  • You need to make sure you have a good service taxonomy. How are your services constructed and composed?
  • You need to know what a business service is and what an end user service is and how the two interrelate.
  • You need to know how an IT service underpins a business service.


It’s highly important you design your service catalog from the customer value perspective. Not only your customer, but down the value chain. Start with a set of services from the perspective of what is most important to your customer’s customer.


The service catalog requires a very profound and multidimensional structure. You need to understand the different viewpoints in terms of who is using the catalog for what purpose. The business user wants a clear view of service offerings and service options. IT has completely different requirements that are anything but homogeneous. For example, while infrastructure IT teams need to upgrade systems across all types of applications in the service landscape, application teams focus more the specific dependencies of their application to IT infrastructure services. This means both need a completely different view of looking at services. That is why service catalog design is truly the art of setting up service catalogs that satisfy different stakeholder viewpoints.


Options such as dynamically modifying the user interface based on the orientation of the user are not yet typically available in current IT catalogs. But organizing services so that each stakeholder can find what they need, in the vocabulary that they understand, is critical to providing effective IT services. How well this is done can also determine how many errors users will make in selecting the right service and filling in the correct information.


Sourcing, SIAM, and the service catalog

The service catalog also intersects directly with questions about sourcing. How much of these services are you going to outsource? You can outsource whole value streams in your IT Value Chain. The number of suppliers to coordinate is significantly increasing, as well as their type and variety. I have customers that tell me, “What we couldn’t handle with a single provider we are now trying to do with several providers. How will this work?”


Our answer is HP Service Integration and Management (SIAM), which addresses the problem of managing multiple suppliers. Operational SIAM integrates with the service catalog so that you have different levels of granularity and flexibility. At the same time, SIAM shields the business from the complexity of managing suppliers so that IT appears as a coherent entity or single face to the business.


Manage services the way you would a good restaurant

I like to use the metaphor of a restaurant in talking about successful service management. When you go to a restaurant it is actually a whole blend of different perceptions that let you determine if that restaurant is good. At the core is certainly the food, because that is its primary function. But even in a good restaurant, you might only offer a few dishes, but they really provide value.


But the final determination of the restaurant’s worthiness will also consider how well I have been served. Was the music nice? Was the atmosphere good? It all adds up. That’s the moment of truth in service management.


(Learn more in this white paper: Be an IT services broker.)


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About the Author


This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.


I think this is great article that helps us think of the real-world situations IT departments face today. I come across analyst reports constantly reminding us that we are moving from a techno-centric world to a service-centric world. The implications for IT departments moving from providing technology to providing services are considerable. I am finding thought that programmes to become more service-centric are slow to gain priority and traction in many organisations. In addition, sadly, I still see IT organisations taking a technology-centric approach to solving service-centric problems which I attribute to a lack of understanding of what being service-centric means. Taking your restaurant metaphor, if the food is poor but you know you have the best ingredients it is probably pointless investing in the latest kitchen equipment to solve the problem, a more likely solution would be to investigate how well the chef brings all those great ingredients together to “construct” the final dish.


Let me touch on a real-world example: earlier this year an IT organisation placed a lot of pressure on vendors to come up with a suitable services catalog solution, a technology solution. After some investigation many of these solutions were classified as being inadequate or immature. When challenged this particular organisation found that its own maturity and ability to adopt any of the solutions was actually what was inadequate, the reason the solutions being presented seemed immature was because they were not being measured against anything internal to the organisation. What was clear to me was that the organisation had no concept of how to construct a set of services that would satisfy all stakeholder demands. In addition, it was also highlighted that the way in which the multi supplier eco-system was being managed was outdated and inefficient which meant any level automation between business users, the catalog, and the multiple suppliers would not have been possible.


Lastly, I would as readers to consider the difference between a service and an application or a server. When running fast and furious programmes or projects around applications transformation for example, don’t just think about the project and how quickly it can consolidate and retire applications, think at the enterprise level about what happens when the programmes or projects are complete and transitioned to the steady run sate. What business services do these applications underpin, how will they be consumed, how are they supported, what are the dependencies, how are they measured end-2-end, how well do service providers collaborate and perform to support the services and so on. I do believe that Markus makes an entirely valid point, that the Service Catalog, Sourcing and SIAM all intersect in today’s multi supplier hybrid eco-systems being driven toward service centric delivery.

John Toth

Excellent article.  The thoughts tie into two other HP areas:  Business Service Catalog and Enterprise Services Model.  This article helps to make the practical points on why a Service Catalog is critical and the need for proper taxonomy.  The link to Enterprise Services Model will ensure the right data is properly categorized and usable for Service Catalog, Service Portfolio and CMDB at a minimum.



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