20 December, 2006

Business Processes and Services are not always correctly associated

For a few months, discussion around processes and services has been a hot topic in my company. Everybody has his own interpretation and very few information exist related to the subject.

This post is the follow up to a previous article I wrote a while ago:

What is a Service?

It is important to specify that sometimes when people talk, the term Service has to be considered either as an ITSM Service or an SOA Service-web service. This is clear to me that BPM and SOA should be tightly integrated, but let’s look at this slightly differently…

A Business Process has activities. An activity could be one to many Services.

But you can also look at this in another way...

A Service is one to many Business Processes. A Business Process has activities, and as already said, an activity is one to many Services. Isn’t this confusing?

What I try to say is that we need to be clear (at least for me...) when we talk of a Service. Are we talking of Service in Service Management terms, or in SOA Terms?

As an example:

The Service "e-mail" has several Business Processes such has:

Creation of email, classification, forwarding, etc...
Calendar Management, invitation for meetings, reminders, etc..

If for example we define the Calandar Management process and look at activities, maybe at some stage we would define a Service which lookup for availability of people in a meeting. This would be an SOA Service "Availability of people"...

To summarize and be clear, I would claim that ITSM Services could count one to many Business Processes, and Business Processes could one to many SOA Services. “E-mail” is an ITSM Service and “creation of an email” being a transaction is an SOA Service.

Does this make sense?


Anonymous said...

No, it doesn't.

Isn't email a product, rather than a service? And what if I offer a business process with certain levels of assurance? Is that not a service?

And what exactly is an ITSM service? A "service management service"? Incident, Change, et. al., are processes not services.

I recently listened to a presentation in Vienna (HP Universe) by one of the authors of ITIL v3. He did a nice job of reconciling SOA and ITIL, the definition of a service, as well the relationships between business processes and services.

I couldn't do an adequate job of repeating so we'll have to wait on the books.

Serge Thorn said...

Thanks for the comment..but..

Email is not a product, this is a Service which which could be Lotus Notes and/or MS Exchange (which are products.)

When a company starts to define its Service Catalogue, there are always days and days of discussion related to what a Service is..

Gartner has even added another concept: The Service Portfolio, which is above the Service catalogue... The Services from that Portfolio are often more understandable by the customers.

An ITSM Service just mean to me that "the Service" belongs to SLM and a Service Management initiative. The purpose being to make clearer my post.

An SOA Service is belonging to either a BPM activity, or a composite application.

Look forward to read the V3 books..but this is only planed for April next year.

Anonymous said...

Is a power-cord a product? The fact you may purchase Dell or HP power-cords doesn't make it a service.

Similarly, email is a product. It does not exhibit any of the characteristics of a service: Heterogeneity, perishability, intangibility and inseparability. Of course, IHIP isn't absolute but it is a good point of reference.

Collaboration services, on the other hand, are services. They may be fulfilled by email, IM or other products and services.

It is this confusion that leads IT to confuse means and ends. How much control does IT have over the business value of email? None.

Rather, IT controls the managed activities that assure the desired outcomes of a customer. Email is simply a service asset. The email user is a customer asset. The service creates value by acting on both.

If we confuse products for true services, the value of IT is missed. Instead, IT ends up compared to product vendors. The value of activities such as provisioning, change mangement, capacity planning and so on, are regarded are unecessary activities chokepoints.

When services are correctly understood as value creating mechanisms, regardless of underpinnings, the line between "ITSM-domain services and SOA-domain" services begins to disappear.

It is my hope that ITILv3 puts this topic to rest. So that the Service Catalogue discussion no longer takes days and days.

The IT Skeptic said...

The topic is further complicated by the fact that not all business units want to engage with IT at a business service level. That is, not all units want IT to be an internal ASP, also known as Internal Corporate Service Provider or ICSP (or at least it was, back when ASPs had us all in a tizzy).
Some business units want IT to be an ISP. They have their own servers and apps, and all they want from IT is some or all of storage, network, server platform, desktop etc You see this a lot in engineering departments, for example. But I have seen it in a law school within a university, a marketing department in a bank, all over a telco etc Anywhere where IT has been allowed to decentralise.
So the service catalog may be an unholy mix of high-level ASP and low-level ISP services. I feel this is quite common.

Charlie said...

The fundamental problem is that both Service and Process are what might be called "upper ontology" terms, at a level of abstraction extremely difficult to achieve consensus.

In my metamodeling I consider them to be in a many to many relationship. The overlooked wrinkle in both is that they are recursively decomposable, and level of granularity is critical in clarifying the the question.

Charlie Betz

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