Service Portfolio Vs. Service Catalog: What’s the Difference?

Service Portfolio Vs. Service Catalog: What’s the Difference?

service portfolio vs. service catalogMaintaining the service portfolio is a great way to identify service enhancements, document service definitions, and determine which services need to be retired or replaced.

But, we have a service catalog, you say. So we’re gonna move along.

Wait a minute. Sorry to break the news, but you need to go back and do some work on an actual service portfolio. The service portfolio is not the same as the service catalog. An IT Service Portfolio describes services in terms of business value, specifying what the services are, how they’re bundled or packaged, and what business benefits they provide. It’s articulated from the customer’s perspective and answers the following questions, according to ITIL: Service Strategy:

  • Why should customers buy our service?
  • Why should they buy this service from us?
  • What features and components do customers want and are willing to pay for?
  • What is the demand for the service?
  • What are customers willing to pay for our service?
  • What resources are needed to provide the service?

On the other hand, an IT Service Catalog is a service order and demand-channeling mechanism, which is a fancy term for a website. It takes services that are already defined in the service portfolio and describes them as offerings that a customer can buy through an online service catalog. You need the foundation of the service portfolio before creating a useful service catalog.

Too many IT organizations rush to define the catalog without starting with the portfolio, causing services to be poorly understood and insufficiently defined. Those organizations are probably currently in the process of overhauling their service catalog, if they haven’t already.

Those new to service portfolio management should consider the strategies below, taken from ITIL:

  • Define business services, which are IT services designed to directly support strategic capabilities
  • Define technical services, which are the IT services needed to support business services
  • Implement service portfolio management best practices for:
    • Launching a new service
    • Retiring a service
    • Enhancing services
  • Rationalize the application portfolio, or alter the strategy for particular products, to identify opportunities for savings and free up funds to support transformation

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