What are service orientation and process orientation? Is it s choice between the two, or should they coexist? I get the sense that all "ITIL implementation" projects out there have a tendency to be tool and process oriented and even worse. The "Lets take one process at a time" approach is a long and hard way to learn how to do it right, if that ever happens. If that sounds appealing and firefighting mode is what you came for? Please google for "how to implement ITIL".
When everyone at IT works there are different workflows that come into play depending on what IT is trying to accomplish. Each workflow has a set of objectives and the combination of workflows is common to enable IT to accomplish certain tasks or results in an effective way. Any new or changed demand from the business IT serves, triggers these workflows to facilitate the new or changed demand.
Process orientation means that these workflows within IT are defined as processes where each process has an expected output and results. Many of the processes are interacting and dependent on each other where results from one process is used and further enhanced in another process to finally deliver what is expected.
Each process is describe by identifying necessary activities, the order of them and the work that should be done. The results from each process are evaluated to assure the right level of quality. The combination of processes and evaluation of the expected end-result is assessed to assure the delivery of what is expected. Any deviations, unwanted characteristics and anomalies are analyzed from a process perspective to identify and improve the process flow, activities, result and output. This does not constitute that work is defined in every detail in every process, far from.
Service orientation implies that there is a defined service that is agreed upon between two parties. The service is used by a customer and delivered by a supplier. The secret ingredient of a service is to understand the value it contributes to. The service does not deliver the value. The value is created by the customer when using the service. Without going into any collaboration models for making this partnership work optimally, lets just for the point sake say that there is a service and the service is delivered (by IT) and used (by the business).
Service orientation means that from that point on, the service is considered in everything IT does. When the business wants to change way of working (change their business process), any new business demands need to reflect how the service needs to change to support new business objectives and way of work. This is a constant dialog and evaluation that needs to be done together by both parties for the services.
This also means that IT needs to understand how the service is used by the business to create value. Again: The value is not delivered by the service, it is created when the business uses the service to achieve its objectives. It is key for IT to understand and learn this.
Any new business demand that affects the service will be managed by IT and realized as a new release at some point for the business to use and enjoy. At this point we can use the service for a lot of useful things within IT. We can use the service to allocate costs to show Total Cost of Ownership, measure time to market, evaluate the actual value it contributes to etc. This can be the focus for IT and everything that IT does. Everybody, both business and IT, knows what the service is used for, why the service is delivered and the importance of it at any time.
Process orientation analogy - The business is a group of carpenters that build custom houses, IT is the supplier of tools and the infrastructure to run the tools e.g. electricity, heat, water and fences and gates etc.
For IT to support the business, it organizes in different departments. For simplicity lets say there are two departments, one focusing on the availability of electricity on the worksite during the full construction of a house. The other department is focusing on availability of machines and carpenter tools on the worksite during the same full period. Each carpenter (business area) at the business has its own requirement for tools depending on what they work with and when the tool is needed during the construction period.
IT defines the processes required to accommodate the business from these two perspectives and the results from each process are evaluated to assure the right delivery and level of quality, but still as two departments in two different perspectives, tools and electricity. Most of the defined IT processes are shared between to two departments but the work that is performed within an department is mainly to facilitate their own perspective. Both departments claim to deliver what is expected with high availability but there still seems to be a constant argument between the business and IT of shortcomings and delays.
When talking to the tool supplying IT department they can show that all new and changed requirements from each carpenter has been fulfilled and when talking to the electricity supplying IT department they claim the same. When closely examining tools they seem to live up all requirement and when doing the same with electricity it is available and on time. IT has still no insight nor knowledge in how the business actually builds a house and what constraints the carpenters needs to manage when doing that.
The argument of shortcomings and delays continues with a firefighting mentality from IT emerges to try to serve the business better.
Service orientation analogy - The business is a group of carpenters that build custom houses, IT is the supplier of tools and the infrastructure to run the tools e.g. electricity, heat, water and fences and gates etc.
For IT to support the business, it needs to understand how the business builds a house. Each carpenter specializes in a separate part of the build and the tools and infrastructure required differs over time and between the carpenters. There are also variations in number of tools needed at a particular time and based on the build phase.
For each carpenter (business area), a selection of services are defined. When defining these services there is a focus of explaining and understanding of how the value is created. How should the tools and infrastructure be used by the carpenter in the most effective way to achieve the best value? The service definition emerges. Now IT understands how the packaging and combination of tools and electricity (and anything else included) should be delivered and used in an optimal way by the carpenters.
A new way of structuring IT is developed. IT is still organized in two departments based on tools and electricity. The difference is that with a clear understanding of business needs the deliveries from IT is combined and packaged based on optimizing the carpenters ability to work effectively. This is now the primary focus and collaboration between the departments is managed accordingly.
With both service and process orientation in place it was obvious that there where a lot of requirements and workflows that never was managed properly.
- A new bigger machine occasionally blew the fuses causing everything to stop.
- At specific times the number of machines used simultaneously caused fuses to blow causing everything to stop.
- It is far more efficient to install electricity in multiple locations throughout the construction site and inside the house so that the carpenters could use the tools where the material was located or being used, eliminating the need of unnecessary carrying of materials around the site and inside the house.
- Some of the tools used by the carpenters could be shared due to that they where used during different periods instead of suppling a complete set of tools individually.
- New specialized tools and equipment where developed to further facilitate the carpenter needs
- Workflows where improved with services in i focus
- collaboration and dialog where improved considerably when the service and value was common ground for both parties.
Processes orientation and services orientation combined:
Service orientation does not in any way replace the need of process orientation. Even when IT is service oriented, process orientation is still necessary and relevant. The addition of service orientation gives IT a better ability to understand business needs and what combinations of IT and improvements that constitutes. Service orientation is all about delivering a service that effectively can be used by the business to create value for the business. Process orientation is how we optimize our work when identifying and managing and deliver those improvements.
You can focus on process orientation which have a high probability to lead to a IT orientation with low business context. Processes orientation is a good way of optimizing how something should be done whilst service orientation is why, what it is and how it is used to create value. This might be the difference of IT being perceived as cost effective technology broker vs. high valued business driver.
Neither of the two orientations needs to be rigorously documented with all details and definitions. The contrary. Make the simplest design and focus on validation, evaluation and collaboration when improving your design.