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December 28, 2017

Consumer driven Service Management

Every business transaction is a result of a service consumed in one form or the other, let it be IT or Non-IT organizations. Availability of a desired service and response to the consumer in timely fashion has been the focus of today's organization. At every opportunity, organizations are constantly striving to make continuous improvements to their process to improve the overall consumer's satisfaction.

Consumers are satisfied with the requesting process, when
• Products/Service are well categorized enabling them to find it quicker
• Products/Services can be collated and ordered for multiple users
• User information can be auto retrieved and processed by the system
• Request can be tracked/monitored/recalled/resubmit as per the business need of the consumer

Focus on consumer satisfaction has made organization re-look on how their service process is structured. Comprehensive and streamlined business processes have resulted in the effective utilization of time and resources, which has in turn reaped operational efficiency, inducing in cost savings to the organization.

In this blog, based on my experience in service management, I would like provide an insight into the approach followed in IT organizations when implementing the service catalogues and the corresponding challenges faced by the consumers when trying the access these service portfolios. Also will share my thoughts on the characteristics of the Service Request forms should possess to enable a smooth Service Request process.

Catalogue Management:
One of the common practice in the industry when defining the catalogue, specifically in IT service departments, it is classified by Organizational departments. The product owner defining these catalogues has a good tribal knowledge of the organization's teams and their process, hence categorizing the catalogue by their departments of service is the easiest thing from an implementation perspective.

By Organizational Departments

An approach of categorizing the catalogue by Organization departments maybe the easiest thing to do during an implementation is assuming that users knows that New Laptop/Desktops requests and Software requests are handled by Hardware/Software Team, VOIP requests are handled by the network team, Ergonomics requests by the Health and Safety Team and Access by the Information Security team.

While this might seem a good approach to start with, but it will soon fail over a period of time in an event of catalogue growth, or due to Organizational restructuring or people movement within and outside the organization. This will also induce lack of ownership of the product and services as the department heads who once owned the product are no longer leading these departments forward resulting in an operational challenge for both the Implementation team and the consumers over a period of time. Additionally, the consumers will also find it hard to find their service portfolio if they are not well versed with the organizational team structure.

By Product/Service Providers

Another approach of categorizing the catalogue by Product/Service Providers seems like the next best thing to do as it can be easily assumed that categorizing Office tools under 'Microsoft' or Acrobat Reader's under 'Adobe' and documentation services under 'Fedex'.

While this might seem a reasonable approach, it will result in an unwarranted challenge to the consumer, as he/she need to keep up with what the global marketing branding and their constant change in versions and software re-branding conditions. A suitable example is when a product which was known as 'Office communicator' has been re-branded twice over the period of 5 years as Microsoft Lync and later re-branded as 'Skype for business'.

Even though this approach doesn't pose a challenge to the IT implementation team, the consumers are forced to keep their service product related knowledge base updated.

By Business Function

Best practice would be to have a blended approach of categorizing the catalogue by their Business function. When categorizing by Business function it accounts for the 'type of service/product', 'nature of service/product' and the 'ownership department of the service/product'. An example would be a Computers catalogue will have insight to Desktops, Laptops and tablets and also their corresponding support desk functions. It would provide a one stop shop for all their needs towards a computer related product or service. This aide in consumers being able to relate their business need with the catalogue's business function.

This blended approach of the service catalogue when presented by 'Business Function' and then sub-categorized by 'Product/Service Providers' will also further enhance the ease of navigation making the catalogs "Easy to Find" for the consumers. This approach will also aid the IT teams in ease of maintenance.

Service Request Form Presentation

Most of the organization have a definitive policy on providing standard products/services on the basis of the consumer's profile but however common challenge faced by the consumers is the long and lengthy service request forms which demand consumer to provide this standard information which are defined in the policy

Best practice would be to provide the consumer with a specific information in definitive fields (dropdown/Radio buttons) which the service provider will be able to deliver based on the defined standard. Example: Assuming the consumer would like to provide information on the Laptop of his/her choice, it would best the user chooses on the quantity, size, color of the product in definitive fields to eliminate product returns/dissatisfied customers.

Another challenge faced by the users is when they have raise multiple service requests for multiple users who require the same service. This challenge is very common especially when new users are on boarded in the organization. To address this challenge, if the users are presented with a catalogue that would provide a collated the list of services that a new user would need to kick start his/her onboarding process. E.g a Business Analyst would require a services like Laptop, access to internet, Access to BA tools, Softwares like Microsoft Office tools.  When services like these are collated and are allowed to be request for multiple new users, will enhance the user satisfaction and experience of the tool.

It is also imperative that deriving the customer name, billing address, shipping address from the logged in User profile including the payment type and payment process will reduce the time taken to fill the Service Request forms.

Having simpler Service Request forms will ensure quality of data entered with ease and in a timely manner.


An efficient catalogue management holds the key to an efficient Service Request Management process. A well collated and organized information which is presented in a consumable fashion along with a process where a definitive information is gathered and provided to the service fulfillers in a structured manner will help drive the quality and efficient execution of the requested service.


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