Recently, ManageEngine asked me to do  a webinar around service catalogues. The webinar was named “The Science Behind Effective Service Catalogues” and had more than 100 attendees. It was a pleasure to have been asked, and I enjoyed doing the webinar immensely. You can view  a recording of the webinar or download the presentation slides.

Due to some technical issues at my end, I couldn’t answer some of the questions the attendees had for me. ManageEngine has very kindly provided me with the questions raised, and I will now attempt to provide a brief response to each here.

How do you manage SLAs at a task level, given that each group or department in a company has different expectations on delivering a service? (asked by Mehuel D. from UK)

If we are talking about different support groups having differing expectations on delivering a service, then we would need to set up OLAs (operational level agreements) to take care of this issue. These can be set up between different support teams to ensure that the service level agreement is met end to end.

The customers provide their requirements (service level requirements), the suppliers provide their targets (service level targets), and the negotiation between the customer and the supplier results in an agreement (service level agreement). With the differing operational support teams, it is essential that they understand and agree on the levels of service. The OLAs are defined to enable just this. The OLAs need to be managed just as much, or maybe more so, as the SLAs. Failures in OLAs can result in failures at the SLA level. These OLAs would be documented in the technical service catalogue so that all teams are aware of their responsibilities.

What do you have to keep in mind while building service catalogues for educational institutions? (asked by Shelley M. from Australia)

While educational institutes (schools, colleges, and universities) and businesses may seem to operate differently, they fundamentally don’t. The institutes provide services to students and the government (if we are talking about a state institute). These services need to be defined and the resulting IT services agreed upon and documented. Your service catalogues would operate in the same manner as any other organisation, but with different services.

What are some traps for young players in service catalogues? What should you watch out for when starting from scratch? (asked by Fay P. from Australia)

First, if you are new to this, don’t get too hung up on what a service is. Start anywhere and if you start with a list of applications, that is fine. Document what you know, and then refine it until it looks like something that you are happy to put in front of your customer.

The second trap is that of trying to do too much too quickly. Producing a service catalogue may turn out to be nice and quick, but it may also be a messy piece of work that involves many people. This in turn could mean that you spend hours, days, or weeks just trying to get questions answered. Accept that this may happen and plan for it. Try not to get pushed into rushing because then you may end up making mistakes that have a detrimental effect.

I hope that this has helped clarify some of the questions that people had during and before the webinar. If you wish to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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