The Higher Education IT Service Catalog: A Working Model for Comparison and Collaboration, Second Edition

Higher Education Challenges

This model was developed in response to the unique challenges that exist in higher education and the effect they have on implementing an IT service catalog. One of the most obvious challenges is the diversity of the population served by higher education IT. Service catalogs in higher education must address the needs of a broad spectrum of users—including students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and donors—as well governance committees, administrative departments, academic departments, legislatures, and others. This broad, heterogeneous population is constantly changing. Indeed, it is the nature of higher education to have a regular influx of new students (and, to a lesser extent, faculty, researchers, staff, etc.) and to see a significant portion of the population leave annually at graduation. This provides unique and continuing challenges for the promotion of IT services and for making the IT service catalog known to new students and faculty; essentially, a continual communications campaign is required, with a major relaunch annually.

Another considerable challenge is that many higher education institutions have a mix of central and distributed IT services. How do you provide a single service catalog to a wide variety of users across multiple schools, campuses, and departments, each with access to a distinct set of services delivered by a variety of service providers?

Finally, higher education is a collaborative enterprise built on consensus. But determining how this plays out when developing a unified and authoritative IT service catalog can be a significant challenge. How do we define a service? How do we handle conflicting or competing services? What governance is in place, and who makes the final decisions? What works in a research university might not work at a regional university or a community college. Ultimately, each institution will need to consider the needs of its own specific environment.