NDMA Home Page
Index of topics on this NDMA website
Search this NDMA website on Google
© 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.
Excerpt from www.NDMA.COM, © 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.

Analysis: Benefits of a Service Catalog

it's not an end in itself, but it's a powerful means

by N. Dean Meyer

  • Role clarity: brings sharp focus on the mission of each group.

    A procurement function felt its role was to enforce procurement rules, as well as help its internal customers buy things. As a result, it was viewed as an obstacle rather than a partner. Most other managers held procurement at arm's length, and some even started their own purchasing groups to help them (although they still had to get every purchase past the corporate procurement group).

    In the process of developing a catalog, the procurement manager became clear on his service mission. Rather than blocking people who wanted a variance from their rather strict procurement rules, he committed to helping them present their case to the executives who were legitimately in a position to grant or deny variances from rules. Everything in his catalog was defined as a service to the buyer, not a control function sold to the board.

    The catalog process also helped him define a range of new ways his group could help other managers. As relationships improved, his group was able to improve compliance while saving time and money on purchases.

  • Asset ownership: clarifies the "moral" owner of assets.

    A wireless communications group (within a city government) was caught in a tough situation. Its internal customers (e.g., police and fire) insisted on making all the decisions about the purchase of equipment such as radios and base stations. In many cases, they bought equipment and services directly from vendors with only minimal consultation with this group.

    Nonetheless, these customers held the communication group accoutable for the performance of the radio network. In other words, internal customers had all the authority, while the communications group had the accountabilities. This was untenable. The communications group couldn't succeed at building a reliable network; all they could do was serve as the scapegoat when things didn't work.

    In the catalog process, the communications manager defined the services his group offered to asset owners (like radio programming and repair). They went on to define a complete communications service, where they would own the assets and accept accountability for the performance of the network. Over time, they worked to ween their internal customers away from owning their own equipment, and instead buying the service.

    Either way, as long as it's clear who owns the assets, authorities and accountabilities are aligned and the group can succeed.

  • Teamwork: provides a language for defining the accountabilities within teams for deliverables, not just tasks.

    In a city library, there was confusion about who controlled the collection of books and other materials. The books were acquired by a Collection manager; but the managers of the various branch libraries felt it was theirs. As cordial as they were with one another, teamwork was strained when they disagreed about what was to go into each branch.

    The process of developing a catalog highlighted the issue and gave them a tangible language to determine their relationships. If the branches owned the books, the Collection manager would "sell" them a planning and purchasing service. On the other hand, if the collection were centrally owned, then it would work the other way: the branches would "sell" the Collection manager a "brokerage" service (like a consignment store) to help him loan his books to library patrons.

    To define their catalogs, the library management team had to make a choice. Given the need to move materials among the branches to best match the needs of the various communities, the team decided to allow the Collection manager to own and manage the entire collection, and to place his materials where they are most needed.

  • Perception of value: a language for dialog with the business of their needs and your organization's contributions, in terms that describe what value customers get from you.

  • Basis for brochures: allows you to extract "views" of the master catalog for different audiences and different motives for buying (e.g., what you need from us when you hire a new employee).

  • Commitments: a framework to form precise commitments which define your organization's accountabilities — to the business, and managers to one another.

  • Accountabilities: documents individual managerial accountabilities for results.

  • New opportunities: identifies gaps and overlaps in your service offerings.

  • Basis for rates and investment-based budgeting: catalogs are prerequisite to service-costing — assigning all costs to your products and services, for both rates and investment-based budgeting (a budget for what you propose to sell, not just what you want to spend).

  • Basis for request management: needed for an online order-entry web site.

  • Culture: enhances service orientation, customer focus, entrepreneurship, accountability, and cross-boundary teamwork.


Free library


Speech abstracts

NDMA coaching/consulting services