Service catalogue and request catalogue

It is hard to believe that confusion between service catalogue and request catalogue is still a thing but it is, as shown by a recent conversation on Facebook Back2ITSM.

The root of all this confusion is of course that ITIL failed to make the distinction clear and crisp, which it is. It should be simple:

    A service is a pipe.
    Customers sign up for a pipe.
    They select from a service catalogue
    Transactions come out of the pipe.
    Users request a transaction.
    They select from a request catalogue.

I wrote about this in the past on this blog and on ITSM Review.

The customer is the business entity which is engaging to consume a service. A service provider agrees with another entity as the service customer. The individual people have delegated roles and responsibilities within that relationship including possibly the approval of transactions. If you as an individual buy a service from a service provider you are not personally buying it, you are buying on behalf of your organisation.

The person who approves the expenditure on an individual transaction (a request) is not the customer. That is merely part of the internal process for request fulfilment. The person who agrees the initial engagement of the service is the customer.

The customer creates the pipe, the user consumes transaction out of the pipe.

Customer: I wish to sign up for Amazon Web Services here is my credit card and my company's identity and how I want the billing to be structured
User: provision the following Linux server

Customer: let's agree that your business unit will provide my business unit with personal computing devices
User: I want a laptop

You don't publish a service catalogue to a user community, you publish it to a customer community. The customer and the user are generally only the same in a retail context in which case you publish the one combined catalogue

In most industries, customer engagement with a service catalogue is an infrequent event for which there is not much scope for automation. Obviously this is different for retail and cloud contexts but in general a service catalogue works just great on that great technology, Microsoft Word.

Request catalogues on the other hand drive request fulfilment where there is great potential for workflow and work automation.

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