IT Service Catalog Vs IT Service Portfolio: Differences And Similarities

In today’s modern technological period, several issues also raise their heads despite facilities and benefits. It is difficult for organizations to tackle these challenges without the help of technological means. And technology also provides many different concepts, frameworks or tools to tackle these issues. But here, there is another problem; the technological field has become so vast that it becomes difficult for new users to differentiate issues and their solutions.

For instance, in ITSM, you are looking for some solution to arrange your products, services and resources then you realize that there are multiple concepts to tackle this issue. You have two options: an IT service catalog and an IT service portfolio; these two are relatively the same concepts, and it is challenging to choose one; in that case, what should you do? Other organizations have also faced the same situation. We realized this difficulty of organizations a long time ago, and we have also given many articles that elaborate on similar concepts like ITSM vs ITIL or ITSM vs ESM etc. In this article, we discussed whether saying IT service catalog vs IT service portfolio is right or not; we elaborate their differences and similarities. In this regard, we should first elaborate on their basic concepts before moving forward to our main topic.

What Is IT Service Catalog?

IT service catalog is a way to unify an organization’s all available resources, services and products. It is like a menu card for consumers. It provides all available options to consumers. According to the Mary K. Pratt;

“An IT service catalog is a list of technology resources and offerings available from the IT service provider within an organization. This catalog is intended to help the IT service provider efficiently and effectively manage and meet end-user expectations.”

IT service catalog is important for organizations to provide a better experience to their end-users. We said this because a unified and simplified, automatic featured IT service catalog could enhance user satisfaction.

What Is IT Service Portfolio?

IT service portfolio is a collection of all products, services and resources regardless of their availability. All categories are added to it, including past, present and future products, services and resources. According to Michael Scarborough;

“ITIL describes a service portfolio as a collection of the overall set of services managed by a service provider. A service portfolio describes a service provider’s boundaries and promises across all of the customers and market spaces it serves. I like to think of a service portfolio as describing the past, present, and future collection of services offered by a service provider. The figure below shows a high-level view of a service portfolio.”

From the above definition, we learned that an IT service portfolio is a collection of all services by a service provider, but you can add products and resources to it according to your requirements. It shows the boundaries of and offerings of an organization. There are three sub-concepts of the IT service portfolio. These concepts are as follows;

  • IT Service Pipeline: IT service pipeline deals with the services, products and resources that are not available yet but they are near to being live.
  • IT Service Catalog: As we discussed in this article, an IT service catalog is a way to show the detail of all available resources to the consumers.
  • IT Retired Services: IT retired services show the services, products and resources that were available in the past but are unavailable now, and there is no possibility of their availability in future.


IT Service Catalog Vs IT Service Portfolio

We have learned a lot from the above concepts, but there is a lot to learn yet. From the above discussion, we learned that the IT service catalog is a sub-concept of the IT service portfolio. Now the question is; how could an IT service catalog be different from an IT service portfolio if it is a sub-concept of an IT service portfolio? The answer is yes, it is a sub-concept but not the same concept; they have many similarities, but also some differences are present between them. According to Joe Hertvik;

“A service catalog is a listing of all the products and services your IT department currently offers its users. Whereas, A service portfolio is a complete listing of all of It’s products and services.”

From these statements by Joe Hertvik, we came to know that the IT service catalog and IT service portfolio both have the same working field, but their scope is different. We said it because the IT service catalog only covers the details of present products and services. In contrast, the service portfolio not only covers the present products and services but also deals with past and even future products and services. So we can say that the service portfolio has a wider range than the IT service catalog.

IT Service Catalog And IT Service Portfolio

From all the above discussion, we learned that it’s not true to say IT service catalog vs IT service portfolio; instead, we should say IT service catalog and IT service portfolio. It is because a sub-concept could never be an opponent to its parent concept. If it is, it could harm an organization’s service operations. How could a wheel run ahead of the car? If it runs, it means the vehicle has gotten into an accident. That’s why we said it.

Moreover, these two are relatively the same concepts with the same goals. Just one difference separates them, that is their scope. That’s why we should say IT service catalog and IT service portfolio instead of taking them as opposite concepts.


In this article, we have been given a detailed overview of the differences and similarities between the IT service catalog and the IT service portfolio. We have especially focused on whether it’s right to say IT service catalog vs IT service portfolio or not. Through this overview, we learned that it’s not the correct terminology for these two concepts. It is because they are two similar concepts with similar goals; just a difference in scope is present between them. So, we recommend you use both of them. The perfect combination of these two concepts could make your ITSM better unified, centralized and simplified.

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