Business vs. Technical Service Catalog
We live in a world of catalogs. We have consumer-oriented catalogs like online bookstores, iTunes, and eBay. We also have business-oriented catalogs for things like electronic components and industrial parts. Depending on who you are, your job, and whether you're looking at catalogs for your job or as a consumer, your perspective on catalogs is different. If you are implementing the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standards, it defines two types of high-level catalogs for IT. But the concept applies to anyone who wants to publish a catalog to make it easier for a customer to do business with you, learn what products and services you offer, at what cost, and how to order them. The catalog you provide to your customer is a Business catalog. Once a customer orders something, you, as a service provider must fulfill that request. You have a catalog of services needed to fulfill orders, this becomes your Technical catalog. Your customer may not need to know exactly how you fulfill their order, just that they get it delivered fast and efficiently.
ITIL defines two different aspects of an organization's service catalog, which in practice can be two separate initiatives:
Business Service Catalog ~ Defines services delivered to all end users within an organization, e.g. ordering a new laptop.
Technical Service Catalog ~ Audience is generally internal IT staff and IT management. Defines the IT components necessary to support the provisioning of services to end users, e.g. hosting, network backup, security, etc. These services should not be included in the business user view.
Today, it is accepted that the Business Service Catalog should be an online web store that all users visit to order any IT service. The Technical Service Catalog should be integrated with your CMDB and should be viewed by internal IT staff and management. Business users don't need to see all this underlying detail.
The Business Service Catalog contains services that customers need and use as seen from their perspective. It should not be confused with a configuration management database (CMDB), though they should integrate. A view of the CMDB may constitute a Technical Service Catalog.
Where to Start? Business or Technical Service Catalog?
Your team's function typically dictates where the Service Catalog journey begins. IT and IT Operations groups usually begin the Service Catalog journey with the Technical Service Catalog where they define technical services such as e-mail, application hosting, data backup and recovery, etc.
On the other hand, if the Customer Service or Help Desk group begins the initiative, it tends to define more direct user-impacting services like password resets, access to fileshares, new hardware and software requests. Who is right, where should you start? Clearly there is value to both, but the value is higher for the Business Service Catalog in the eyes of the executives and the organization as a whole.
Fortunately, PMG Service Catalog Suite fully supports both Business and Technical Service Catalog, providing a single tool that can provide you with both.