Products and services catalogues and their role in facilities management

Products and services catalogues (PSC) is an often used term within facilities organisations, but we should likely define the term in broader detail. In their simplest form, products and services catalogue document all products and services that facilities offers the organisation, as well as answering the questions such as: what can I expect when I report a broken air conditioner?; what is the procedure to reserve a meeting room?; can I always order tea and coffee for meetings?; how often is my office cleaned; and where can I turn if I have any questions? 

A quality product and services catalogue offers your internal users answers to these questions and improves service provided during the process. The information catalogues also provide information about products and services, and functions as a communications channel between the facilities department and internal customers. A benefit to clients through the catalogue is that they are able to understand expectations of your department and lets you be clear about durations, and how orders and calls are processed. This understanding means that both your customers and facilities employees are able to start from the same place and communicate expectations effectively. 

The bottom line is that the catalogue means you can explain matters and procedures to your internal customers and shows them how in/formal, accessible and professional you present yourself as a department.

Finally, perhaps let of a well-known concept is the idea that a products and services catalogue can serve as a promotional tool for the facilities department. 

Should you create a products services catalogue?

If you are considering adding a products or services catalogue, there are some hints as to whether the idea is worth pursuing. For starters, if there is not much documentation about the products and services offered by your organisation’s facilities department you may want to think about creating a catalogue. These documents exist because a facilities manager can’t always explain everything to everyone who has a question meaning “forgotten” details regarding the services come to light during the implementation. A good catalogue offers structural improvement during the computer-aided facility management system’s set up.

How does the catalogue get created?

You or someone in your facilities organisations is likely the source for this task. But even if facilities management organisations are aware of the added value of a catalogue, most of us often don’t know where to start. The simplest strategy when starting is to keep in mind that products and services are divided into categories -- differentiating between free services and paid services, for instance. Dividing products and services into basic packages, plus packages and bespoke has proven successful.

The basic package features products and services that are supplied to all internal customers, free of charge. Examples of basic package services are: cleaning activities, coffee and tea supplies and print supplies. The plus package covers all products and services for which the customer is charged extra. This could include lunch services during meetings or printing on poster paper. Bespoke services are tailored to suit the customer. Purchasing these services is done in agreement with the facilities department. The services are not described beforehand, because they can vary. However, internal customers should know where to turn with their questions. For instance, when they need help organising an event, an external relocation or a special (internal) project.

To properly inform your customers, you should describe the following information in your product services catalogue:

  • A description of the product or service. For instance, which facilities are part of a standard workstation? And is there a staff restaurant?
  • The quality characteristics of the product or service. If the facilities department can supply various quality levels this should be described in the product services catalogue. Which types of meeting room are available?
  • What are the procedures for receptions or jubilees?
  • The order procedure for the product. Who can order the product or service – can only the manager place the order, or do you require the budget holder’s signature? Or do you require an order form?
  • The terms of delivery for the product. Does the product have a delivery time? Where can it be picked up, or can it be delivered to the requester?
  • Who can the customer contact about questions, complaints or malfunctions? Is there a phone number for this, or an intranet portal or maybe a help desk where they can be helped in person?
  • Supporting your CAFM system with a product services catalogue

In practice, a product services catalogue is often based on specific categories used to register complaints, wishes, requests for information and malfunctions in your CAFM system. The description of the expected time spent to resolve the call can also be used to communicate the expected target date. In other words: the date the customer can expect the malfunction to be resolved. The catalogue is then integrated with the CAFM system.

A CAFM system also lets you obtain customer feedback. A customer satisfaction survey is often used for this. If the catalogue is integrated with the CAFM system, customers can give specific feedback about the services, helping the facilities department manage the organisation’s expectations. This in turn affects the content of the catalogue.

Presenting the catalogue

When all products and services are categorised, you can start thinking about how you want to present the catalogue to users. There are several ways to bring the catalogue to the attention of your internal customers. You can publish it on an internal web portal, as an alphabetical list or based on the most common categories. Perhaps you use handouts to explain the services offered on the catalogue. 

In short, integrating a product services catalogue with a CAFM system can help you grant insight into your services and build a professional relationship with your customers. Just make sure to always keep the target audience in mind when publishing a catalogue.

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord, president of TOPdesk US