Definitely Definitions

What is a Service? ITIL defines a Service as "a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks."  In other words, when we do something for another party that gives them something they need or creates value for them, we are providing a service. Customers/users want to enjoy the benefits of the services we provide but don’t want to take on the challenge of managing those items themselves, therefore we provide those items to them in the form of services. It is also important to differentiate between client-facing services that allow end users to do their work and internal technical services that enable those services to be delivered efficiently and effectively.

At a strategic level it is important to understand the concepts of services, customers, value, service providers and how organizations relate to them to help us define which services will be delivered and to whom they will be delivered to.  What we are going to discuss here is how to identify customers, their requirements and if there is an opportunity that we as a service provider can fulfill.  There are eight distinct steps that should be undertaken as part of portfolio management.

Step 1: Define the market and identify customers.   Are we a Type I, II, III type service provider? Which type of markets are we competing in and how will they be defined?  Industry specific, Geographical, Demographical or Corporate relationships.

Step 2: Understanding the customer For internal service providers this means understanding the overall business strategies.  For external service providers this means understanding why the customer needs the services they are purchasing.  With both we should understand in detail desired business outcomes, customer assets, constraints and how value will be perceived and measured.

Step 3: Quantify the outcomes Working with customers, clear and measurable outcomes which can be directly linked to the service must be defined, documented and agreed. An outcome based definition of the service ensures a strong business relationship with your customers.

Step 4: Classify and visualize the service. Each service in our portfolio is unique, however many of our services have similar characteristics and may share common resources and dependencies.  Classifying services and expressing them visually will allow us to identify if they are within the current perspective or if they represent a growth of the strategy.

Step 5: Understand the opportunities (market spaces). Aligning the service provides capabilities (strengths) with the requirements of the customer.

Step 6: Define services based on outcomes. Outcome based services ensure that service providers plan and execute all aspects of a service from the perspective of what is significant to the customer.  This approach ensures value creation for the customer and value capture for the service provider.

Step 7: Service models. These demonstrates how customer assets and service assets interact with each other to create value.  They should describe both the structure and dynamics of the service.

Step 8: Define service units and packages. A service package is a collection of two or more services that have been combined to offer a solution to specific customer need.  Service packages packages are made up of core, enabling and enhancing servises.

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