• Defining IT Services: Two Approaches

    Written by Graham Furnis

    Defining IT Services is central to any IT Service Management (ITSM) approach to managing IT. I always find a lot of interest in this subject when I discuss it; and I also find that organizations are constantly challenged in this area.

    This blog is a continuation of the discussion. In my previous blog, I wrote of a basic top-down approach to defining IT Services which is commonly seen in ITSM initiatives. The basic steps identified were:

    1. Identify Business Processes
    2. Define IT Services
    3. Identify IT systems
    4. Identify lower level IT Components

    This approach forces you to work closely with your customer to identify and understand the business process. It works well in situations involving key business processes – often termed Vital Business Functions (VBF). In these situations, the business process is well known - which it should be given its “vital” status – and the conversation with IT clearly identifies how technology should help these processes succeed. The business process is broken down to its unique functions, and then IT Services can be defined using this same business language.

    However; have you ever come across a situation where the business can’t easily describe its process?! Perhaps not even identify its process?! In this situation I find the top-down approach becomes unproductive and frustrating. In such situations, I have used a bottom-up approach. The steps in this approach are:

    1. Identify IT systems
    2. Identify Customers
    3. Identify Business Processes
    4. Define IT Services

    This approach begins with what we know – that of our current systems we are supporting and delivering. Through identification of Customers using these systems, we can begin analyzing what business processes are being supported. In most cases, this bottom up approach identifies many customers and business processes. Through good inclusive discussions with the business, we will end up with business meaningful and understood IT Service definitions.

    Graham Furnis is fully immersed and passionate in providing ITSM solutions. He is a business-driven IT professional with 20+ years of technology and management experience. He is certified as an ITIL Manager and Expert as well as an accredited instructor.

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