The Service Catalog acts as the face of your IT Help Desk. It’s right there in your Self-Service Portal, staring right at your customers. They don’t see the person doing the actual work, which is why it is crucial to your Service Desk to successfully implement your Service Catalog. It’s very easy to fail, but it also just as easy to succeed.

Here are some common mistakes I would avoid:

Ugly/Difficult to use interface: This is the key ingredient in the recipe for poor user experience. Once you have that one bad experience you are less likely to give it another try. Not only does the portal need to be user friendly, but so do the forms. A huge form with a bunch of fields will just overwhelm anyone who dares try to fill it out. If you want all the requesters information, capture that with hidden fields, you’re already storing this in their employee record, just have it fill it automatically to prevent the user from having to.

Not including the Business Owners: You wouldn’t want someone being the judge, jury and executioner for any of your processes so why would you want to be for someone else’s?

Not setting up the correct expectations: Don’t make promises to complete things in an unreasonable time. Set a generous SLA and then raise the bar as you see fit.

Now that we know what not to do, let me share some best practices for success:

Implement the “right” requests: Only implement requests that are common- you wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of creating a request and workflow for something that makes up less than 5% of your total requests. You will never capture every scenario, so don’t even try (unless you want to drive you and your team crazy). Go with the top 10 or so request types, and maybe create a “General Request” as a catch all for the rest.

Make it easy to use and look good: If it looks good, and it’s easy to use your users will be more inclined to use it and the better chance you have of it leaving a positive impression. Think about it, if a website you are visiting is ugly are you going to remember anything else about it other than how ugly or difficult to use it was?

Revisit and continuously improve: Remember those generous SLAs I mentioned earlier? Continuously revisit them so that you can raise your bar. Think about that General Request Offering you made. Now, I know you will never get rid of it, but take a look at the types of things being requested with those. Are you seeing any patterns? Are seeing any one or two things being requested excessively? Do those excessive requests warrant maybe some job aids/ refresher trainings to go out to the users or maybe they are frequent enough to build a new request for? Your Service Catalog doesn’t end with implementation, its a continuously improving catalog. Perform quarterly performance reviews on it. Just like new Request Offerings need to be created, some wind up needing to be retired, updated, or replaced.

Don’t be the Service Desk with the ugly looking Service Catalog that is too difficult to use and hasn’t been updated in ages, be the one that has valuable request offerings, a not so boring look, and that stays fresh and current. Your customers (and team) will thank you!

-Krystina Hodge, Consultant & Project Manager

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