Best of HDI in 2022 - #5: Too often, service catalog use erodes over time. Here is how to revitalize the catalog and ensure it is being used as the first step by end users who need help.

by Phyllis Drucker
Date Published September 13, 2022 - Last Updated January 20, 2023

Best of HDI in 2022 - #5

In the typical service catalog journey, the initial catalog is built and then items continue to be added over time. As time goes on, however, adoption may lag and IT may struggle to maintain interest in catalog usage.

There are often some basic issues with catalog maintenance:

  • The names and items are too technical.
  • The forms ask too many questions.
  • The provider has tried to avoid having too many items and has too few instead.
  • Many organizations fail to include items that a provider requests, or provide items with no consistent style or direction overall.

How do you correct or revitalize a service catalog without starting over?

Here are five places I start when performing a catalog transformation:

Focus Groups

Let’s face it, IT professionals are technical. They don’t know how to design and market a service catalog. However, there are people in the organization who do: marketing and communications team members. Bringing them together with end users, particularly those who don’t use the catalog, can provide tremendous insight.

Hold a series of focus group sessions with these stakeholders to find out what needs improvement. Start with “What works?” and “What doesn’t work well?” and allow the conversation to guide you from there. Use these sessions to develop an overarching strategy and consistent look and feel to catalog items.

Item Review

As mentioned previously, look at items with low usage. Ask the Service Desk about them to learn more. These are often the items that are poorly designed. When looking at underutilized items, also consider:

  • Is the name of the item too technical? Use your focus group to help with renaming little-used items or items that are hard to find.
  • Is there too much on the form - is the form asking people to categorize incidents, asking for information you already have, or asking for too much in-depth information?

Generic Requests

Almost every catalog has the “I need something else” item. This becomes a catch all, used instead of taking the time to look for the right item. Instead of this approach, think of the areas where non-standard or new items might be requested and offer a request in each of those categories.

For example, a Non-Standard or New Hardware item and New/Unlisted Software item can be provided with a built-in approval process and workflow. Consider every category that needs something like this, rather than one generic item. Add a process to onboard new catalog items for new/non-standard items that are accepted for use.


One incentive for using a service catalog can be immediate response via automation. A software store experience, rapid deliveries of common supplies, or automated repairs for known errors can all improve adoption rates of your service catalog.

Eliminate Sprawl – Go Enterprise Wide

A big issue with adoption is multiple catalogs that each offer segmented solutions. Bringing all forms and self-service options under a single catalog, even if that catalog offers a pass-through to another system’s form, ends that confusion.


One last thing to remember: when the catalog transformation is complete, work with marketing and communications to publicize the new approach and gain attention for it. Then measure usage rates over time. That will tell you whether you got it right.

Phyllis Drucker is an ITIL® 4 Managing Professional certified consultant and information leader at Cognizant’s Linium ServiceNow practice. Phyllis has more than 20 years of experience in the disciplines and frameworks of service management, as both a practitioner and consultant. She has served HDI since 1997, itSMF USA since 2004 in a variety of capacities including speaker, writer, local group leader, board member, operations director and recently completed her term as Chair for itSMF International. Since 1997, Phyllis has helped to advance the profession of ITSM leaders and practitioners worldwide by providing her experience and insight on a wide variety of ITSM topics through presentations, whitepapers, and articles and now her new book on the service request catalog, Online Service Management: Creating a Successful Service Request Catalogue (International Best Practice). Follow Phyllis on Twitter @msitsm.

Tag(s): supportworld, leadership, best practice


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