Monday, August 3, 2009

Product and Service

An observation from being an ITIL teacher is that a common challenge people learning ITIL face is the ability to differentiate between a product and a service. Typically these are folks from a software development and QA background and can only see the world through the actions taken to develop the application.

Let us consider a situation where the IT department develops and releases an application to the business. Now it is easy to consider that the application itself is all that is being provided to the customer. However, the application must also typically be maintained and supported for the customer. The factors involved in this are:

  • help desk support

  • incident and problem management

  • regular contact with the customer

  • evaluation and analysis of changes needed by the customer

  • making the changes

  • releasing the changed application to the live environment

Furthermore, proactive monitoring of availability, capacity, security and disaster recovery must also be performed to ensure that the agreed upon uptime of the application is maintained.

All these actions together provide the overall service for the application to the customer. The application as a product itself delivered to the customer is one thing. But the application functioning as it should at the agreed upon levels for the agreed upon period of time is quite another thing.

Therefore, we see the reason for processes like availability management, capacity management etc. Simply having a department of programmers is not enough as IT now requires the ability to handle all aspects of service provision to the customer. IT departments must evaluate the processes that are required for them to provide service to the customer and then set up and manage these processes within their department. Even programmers should at least be aware of the service aspects of the application being programmed by them.

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