Anatomy of Internal Service Catalog

Peter Zalman
Enterprise UX
Published in
3 min readJan 20, 2023

Rewind back to read about the internal service catalog.

1. Taxonomy

Appropriately categorizing the central repository of service offerings is crucial to making the service catalog a true self-service tool. A good service catalog is structured around goals, mental models of the people using it and validated with UX research. For example, a good category name is “Organizing a workshop (from Scenario 1)” over listing the names of internal departments and their internal team structures. People do not recognize the specifics of the departmental structure and have a hard time discovering ambiguous services they use infrequently.

2. Search

Oftentimes employees know they want to request a very specific service, or they can effectively recall a distinct service name from the previous experience. A powerful search is a critical element of a highly performing service catalog, enabling employees to quickly find the service they are looking for using commonly known keywords or even abbreviations.

3. Description

A detailed, actionable description is at the heart of the service offering. A good description is focused on the expectations of the employee — explaining service goals, types of outcomes, costs, or even illustrative examples. A more verbose description is better than assuming familiarity as it is used in the search index, where relevant keywords make the service offering discoverable to others.

4. Availability

Service availability, or service level agreements (SLA) is what makes the difference between a good service offering and just a contact form. Repeated user research confirms that employees often feel anxiety about submitting their requests if they don’t know how long it will take or if they lack the validation that they have reached the right service team. Clearly stating the team’s or application service availability is a key element of a good service catalog.

5. Structured Input

At the end of the day, the request for a service means formulating your needs, goals, problems, and expectations of the service. A good web form makes the input simpler than unstructured channels, e.g., email. For example, when there is a preferred location input, this does not force users to guess or recall available options, but simply offers the selection e.g. directly on a map. Similarly, to requesting a physical item, it is not difficult to imagine the pain of e-commerce user experience that does not gives the user a preview of the selected option.

Primary design considerations for the form input are framed around the employee user experience, although a good structure makes the service workflow much more effective. Behind-the-scenes automation is responsible for many workflow steps e.g., routing the request to appropriate team, automatically granting access to a software tool, or shipping an item. All this automation is only possible with confirmed and validated user input.

6. Workflow

Knowledge work is better understood as the combination of two components: work execution and workflow. The first component, work execution, describes the act of executing the underlying value-producing activities of the service — the programmer coding, the publicist writing the press release, IT Analyst troubleshooting the issue, HR partner talking to the employee. It is how the service generates value for the employee. The second component, workflow, or fulfillment process, describes how these fundamental activities are identified, assigned, coordinated, or reviewed.

If work execution is what generates value, then workflows are what structure these efforts. Modern workflow platforms offer a range of tools to automate the steps via AI/ML routing and categorization, 3rd party data integrations or effective self-service knowledge base. This gives service professionals more focus on the work execution — a good workflow makes itself disappear to the background.

Service Catalog Anatomy

All Articles

Explaining Enterprise Service Catalog

What is an Internal Service Offering

What is internal Service Catalog

Anatomy of Internal Service Catalog



Peter Zalman
Enterprise UX

I am crafting great ideas into working products and striving for balance between Design, Product and Engineering #UX. Views are my own.