What’s the Best Service Catalog Software?
The answer to that question, as to so many others in life, is: it depends.
But a recent report from Gartner, Critical Capabilities for IT Service Catalog Tools (Jeffrey M. Brooks, Chris Matchett, 17 March 2014) puts more detail behind that answer.
The report evaluates 15 service catalog vendors across nine critical capabilities areas and four use cases. As one would expect, different vendors scored well on different criteria. In the end, the report concluded, “No single product meets every IT organization’s needs perfectly in all scenarios.” In other words—it depends.
As with most reviews of this type, the report focuses on the use of service catalogs within IT; that is, as a method for presenting IT services to business users and enabling those users to submit requests or report IT-related issues.
Enterprise request management (ERM) implementations often begin with IT service catalog initiatives (though that isn’t necessarily required) before being expanded to other shared services functions. Put another way, IT service catalogs evolve into business service catalogs as organizations adopt ERM strategies.
It’s a logical progression. IT service catalogs typically integrate with IT service management (ITSM) software suites to automate certain types of service fulfillment. Business service catalogs, in the ERM approach, integrate with a range of management and control systems (HRMS, ERP, finance, facilities management, etc.) to automate fulfillment of services from other shared services groups. As an ERM implementation matures, complex tasks than multiple service groups (e.g., onboarding a new employee) can be mapped and at least partially automated.
The power of ERM is in giving users a single portal interface to request any type of business service, so for organizations making a service catalog software selection—with a goal to implement ERM down the road—choosing a vendor and product that can scale horizontally to support an ERM vision is vital.
While the Gartner report provides insights into the relatives strengths of various service catalog offerings, it doesn’t specifically address the issue of horizontal scaling. Therefore, key additional questions to ask when selecting a business service catalog system include:
- Can the portal integrate easily with management and control applications beyond ITSM suites?
- Can non-technical process owners create, test, optimize and deploy their own services, with minimal IT assistance?
- Can the service catalog trigger actions in other types of organizational systems (e.g., email for notifications and approvals, scheduling applications for fulfillment, reporting tools for service analytics)?
While the “best service catalog’ for any specific IT department may depend on many factors, the ideal choice for organizations embracing an ERM approach is a toolset that supports the requirements of a broader business service catalog vision.