Service Catalogs Need to be Open – for Business

Service catalog software can be purchased as part of larger ITSM suites or as stand-alone applications from point vendors. Which approach provides an organization with the best service catalog option? The answer, as with so many other important questions,  is “it depends.”

When selecting a service request portal application to support an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy, the suite vs. best of breed question is less important than capability and structural considerations. Here are a few of the key questions to ask.

A service catalog must be "open" for businessWhat is the vendor’s vision for ERM? Ideally, the service catalog vendor should have a mature vision for extending service request management across the enterprise, including technology requirements and implementation guidelines.

How long is the time to benefit? In a sense, an ERM implementation is more like building a city than constructing a single home; it can grow and change indefinitely. There will always be new processes to  add and existing processes to redesign and re-optimize.

Given its enterprise-wide scope, ERM is best implemented incrementally, starting with automating one or a few common or painful processes and expanding over time. But to maintain momentum and commitment, the implementation should be able to provide some level of benefit fairly quickly (i.e., within 30-90 days). Be wary of applications that require a long and costly implementation process before beginning to show value.

Can business process owners create their own automated workflows? Providing departmental managers and other process owners with easy-to-use tools to create their own task workflows,  with minimal IT assistance, offers several benefits. It reduces the workload for (usually overstretched) IT departments; speeds implementation; fosters a sense of ownership; and encourages adoption of the tool, which maximizes its value to the organization.

But most importantly, the service request portal needs to be open. It must have the ability to integrate with pretty much any in-place platform, application,  or data source, using an enterprise service integration (ESI) approach, not proprietary or point-to-point integrations.

Because ERM provides a single portal from which employees can request any type of shared service,  resource, or item, the portal has to be able to communicate with the departmental (HR, finance,  facilities, etc.) and core management and control systems in which the enterprise has already invested. Being “open” to these business applications is therefore vital to the front-end ERM application.



  1. Pingback: Service Catalogs Need to be Open - for Business...

  2. Robert Wolfrum - November 5, 2014 1:29 pm

    Good content here that supports the Gartner view that your ITSM platform should NOT be housed within your ERM platform. Citizen Development is a critical factor as well. IT will never be able to keep up with the change requests needed for a robust long term play that can adapt at business speed. Depending on IT development for enhancements will only put you in the back of the PMO line. If you want to move at business speed you need to be in the driver seat and that means not waiting for IT resource allocation.

  3. Tom Pick - November 10, 2014 11:11 pm

    I concur with Robert on this. IT can be most effective at aligning with business needs in the broad area of service request management (for any type of shared service within an organization) by providing a robust tool that empowers business process owners to design, test, modify, implement, and clone their own task workflow processes. Request management is centralized from the perspective of employees, while the work of business process design is dispersed to give business function managers control, reduce the workload for IT, and accelerate creation and delivery of new services via the portal.

  4. Pingback: When Suites Aren't Sweet: The Best ERM Tools May Not Come From Your ITSM Vendor

Have your say