We usually refer to things like Incident Management and Change Management as “processes”. But we may be selling them short by doing that. Perhaps we should think of them (and treat them) as Services. This isn’t semantics – it’s mindset.
What really is the difference between a “process” and a “service”? When we think of something as a “process” we think of how we do it – when we think of something as a “service” we think of what we do for our customers. And that is really where I’m going. Thinking of something as a “service” puts the customer first – thinking of something as a “process” put the mechanics first.
Why is this so important? Well, in your environment, how many of the people who submit Requests for Change (RFCs) think of Change Management as a service? Probably none. And the real reason for this is that they don’t think of themselves as customers of it. How can they think of themselves as customers when it was never marketed to them as a service?
ITIL® defines a service a something that helps you achieve your goals while relieving you of individual costs and risks. Is that the way we describe it to the person submitting the request for change (RFC)? Not very often! Usually, we tell them the mandatory lead times, the fields they have to fill in and the fact that a dozen or so Change Advisory Board members all have the ability to veto it. Does that sound like a service to you?
What if we asked the Process Owner to adjust their role description to Service Owner and focus on “helping customers achieve their goals while relieving them of individual costs and risks”? They would likely describe the service to their customers a little differently!
Now, as with every service, there are other stakeholders other than the customers. Laws, regulations, and policies still apply. But the message we need to bring to the customers is that we can make your life better – the service we deliver will help you get your job done.
Will the underlying process change? Probably not much – if at all. But the marketing will, and the relationship with the customers will. And the vision of the (now) Service Owner will influence the mindsets of all the other roles within the service. The Managers and the Practitioners will all focus on what they are doing for their customers. And you can build in metrics to see if you are all moving in the right direction.
If you were to take a walk through the set of ITSM processes that ITIL® identifies and reconsider each one as a service, you’ll start to identify who are the customers of each. You’ll also start to think “What can we do to help with what they are trying to achieve and, in doing so, relieve them of individual costs and risks?”
So, the message is not to scrap the processes, but to scrap thinking of them as just processes. Start thinking of them, first and foremost as services that have processes behind them.