What is the relationship between Service Level Management and the Service Catalogue in ISO 20000?

Since ISO 20000 is not (directly) organized in the service lifecycle, like ITIL, Service Level Management (SLM) is where “the story” about delivering IT services begins. That gives the service provider an opportunity to make official which and what kind of services they deliver. When put in written form – that’s the Service Catalogue.

ISO 20000 has a different approach to the Service Catalogue. But first, let’s review some details about ISO 20000. There are several parts of the standard. Two are the most important ones:

  • ISO 20000-1 – these are the requirements; i.e., if an organization wants to gain ISO 20000 certification, this is what they have to fulfill. Don’t expect many details in this document – just listed requirements.
  • ISO 20000-2 – guidance, i.e., code of practice. This document explains what the first part requires, and gives you a few hints as to how to fulfill those requirements. But, from my experience, IT Service Management / ITIL experience will be your “strongest weapon” for the implementation.

Now, let’s see the ISO 20000 approach to the Service Catalogue.

ISO 20000, Service Catalogue and the content

Well, ISO 20000-1 does not explicitly define the content of the Service Catalogue. The standard just says that the Service Catalogue shall (in the ISO world, “shall” means it’s a requirement) be agreed upon with the customer and that its content shall include dependencies between services and service components. Not very specific, is it?

Luckily, there is ISO 20000-2, which gives more details about the Service Catalogue and its content. Before I explain the recommendations, let me highlight one more option – ITIL explains the Service Catalogue in much, much more detail (read the article Service Catalogue – a window to the world to find out ITIL’s view on the Service Catalogue) and could be your powerful tool to implement the catalogue.

So, let’s get back to ISO 20000 and the code of practice. You will find a lot of details that should give you an idea of how to approach the creation of the Service Catalogue. So, ISO 20000-2 suggest that the Service Catalogue should contain:

  • a description of the service (of course, including name of the service) – be careful with this because it has to be understandable by the customer
  • service targets – how fast you need to resolve, e.g., incidents of different priority levels or how fast you have to fulfill a service request, e.g., provide a user with access to a certain network resource (like a project folder on a local network)
  • contact points
  • support, i.e., service hours, including exceptions
  • any security issue / requirement / arrangement
  • dependencies on other services / components, like when a desktop service contains WAN (Wide Area Network/Internet) service

That’s on track with what ITIL describes as the content of the Service Catalogue. The ISO 20000 approach to the process of creating the Service Catalogue is different.

Different or same?

Reading the standard’s requirements can be surprising for ITIL people (someone deeply involved in IT Service Management according to ITIL). There is no Service Catalogue process! Well, the Service Catalogue is a pretty important element when delivering IT services, and many people find it strange that the standard only mentions it in just a few sentences within the scope of the Service Level Management process.

Since ISO 20000 is narrower in scope than ITIL, it’s logical that some of the processes are bound together (e.g., ITIL’s Incident Management and Request Fulfillment processes are Incident and Service Request Management in ISO 20000). So is the Service Catalogue – it’s part of the Service Level Management process. Is that good or bad?

There are some pros and some cons. Here are few of them:

Pros – SLM is the central “point” for all service-related issues and their customers. In such way, SLM has the best overview of the customer’s requirements and their level of understanding of services that are provided. Namely, the Service Catalogue should ensure that the service provider and the customer have the same understanding of what the service does (and how). Additionally, SLM is in charge of coordinating external partners (suppliers) and components of the service they provide.

Cons – I noticed that organizations that don’t have a clear customer-service relationship get in trouble with the Service Catalogue. That could be avoided in several ways, like having one of the Service Level Managers responsible for a particular service or splitting a catalogue into a common section (for all customers) and a customer-specific section. Additionally, the Service Catalogue Management process according to ITIL is included in activities that are part of service design (e.g., definition of services and service packages), which means a bigger impact on services right from the beginning.

SLM is in direct contact with the customers and knows a lot about them and how they perceive your services. Having strong relationships with Supplier Management and Business Relationship Management makes SLM a hub inside the organization for all issues related to customers and services. And, the Service Catalogue is a document that provides written obligation for all involved parties with a common target – customer satisfaction. On one side, that makes the Service Catalogue important, but on the other side it provides the service provider with a tool to clarify the “rules of the game.”

Use our free  ISO 20000 Gap Analysis Tool to check your compliance with the standard.

Advisera Branimir Valentic
Branimir Valentic
Branimir is an expert in IT service management (consultancy, training and tools), IT governance (training and consulting), project management and consultancy in IT and telecommunication. He holds the following certificates: ITIL Expert, ISO 20000, ISMS Lead Auditor and PRINCE2.