A service is the bundling or packeting of something that is consumed by someone and there is a provider which take responsibility in delivering it according to some kind of agreement. The service might consists of multiple parts/options where some can be mandatory and others can be optional. Sometimes the service is static and can only be purchased in its current shape but nevertheless, the consumer needs and wants it.
A process is the way (a sequence of activities) where a defined outcome is achieved. Its supposed to be efficient and repeatable so that the outcome is achieved every time the process is triggered and completed. The framework ITIL consists of processes, and the description of them, and is a common way of describing the way (workflows) an IT department is trying to work.
The service is consumed once or frequently over time. The process is triggered and driven according to the flow.
This far i think it is quite strait forward but how about the missing point? Well when defining a service there are things that are crucial. If part of your goal as a provider is to contribute and align with your customer. The first thing to understand is what the heck is the consumer trying to do and achieve. The other thing is to understand the process of how the consumer is doing it ........ but ........ here is that process again? This time the definition of the process is still valid but now it is not the IT departments processes that we are talking about. Now it is the consumers process we are talking about and this is the point i miss. As an IT service provider we need to define internal processes for how we do our work but that does not have anything to do with the services we provide. To define a service we need to have a clear understanding of the consumers process and its only then we can align and contribute.
To define a service where the consumer actually perceives it as valuable it needs to be fitted into how the consumer achieves its outcome. We as a provider need to understand the consumers process and choose a part of it or the complete consumer process and define how IT is used to achieve the outcome. When this is done we can package a service to enable the consumer process, or part of it. For better understanding and communication, the service should be named as or similar to the part of the process its enabling. If the service is designed to support or enable a complete process, the consumer process outcome is good start for the naming of it.
If IT can define a service where its utterly clear for both the consumer and the provider what the service enable or supports, eg. exactly what part of the consumers process it is supporting, and the consequence when the service is not available, eg. how important the outcome is at the specific moment for the consumer, you have a good foundation to start with defining services.
With this information IT can design a service where the following is true.
- When available, both parties have the same understanding of what it is used for and what it is enabling.
- When unavailable, both parties have the same understanding of how critical the situation is at that specific moment in time.
in one case it might not be critical until next day/week/hour and in the other it might be critical at once. This is only achieved by understanding the consumer process and the value of the outcome for the consumer. The process within IT is the way we manage and deliver our IT services. The service is the way IT enable the business process IT supports.
Analogy: Whats the point of knowing that there is a flat tire on a car if we do not understand that the rest of the car is useless for the driver without it? It would be better if the parking break was broken and we understood what that meant and could tell the driver to continue to use the car but not to park in tilting conditions until fixed.