Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Understanding Business Services

A business service represents an agreed delivery of some parcel of capability from one agent to another agent.

Understanding services properly requires a combination of all six of the viewpoints I have defined for business architecture.
  • The capability viewpoint describes the parcel of capability
  • The activity viewpoint captures the delivery protocol
  • The responsibility viewpoint captures the agreement aspect
  • The motivation viewpoint covers the outcomes and performance measurement (especially relevant for outcome-based pricing) 
  • The knowledge viewpoint covers service semantics
  • The cybernetic viewpoint covers service governance
For more on these viewpoints, see my post Towards a Metamodel of Business Architecture.

There are many different types of service. In Services Like Laundry, I explored the laundry metaphor, suggesting that many services are a bit like laundry, and some services are very much like laundry, but few services are totally like laundry. In Services Not All Like Laundry, I list some other types of service. Other useful classifications of service include Philip Boxer's characterization of rcKP - services at the edge.

Services may be active or latent. An active service is one that is regularly or continuously used, so we can observe it in operation at any time. An active service is expected to provide value to the receiving agent whenever it is used. A latent service may be rarely needed, but its existence may be necessary for business continuity and risk management, and therefore provides value even when it is not used. Latent services may only be observed at exceptional times, such as in a crisis. Some businesses therefore run crisis simulations from time to time in order to exercise the latent services and check they are working.

See also Tangential Service (September 2008)

Related topics: Business-as-a-Platform, Mashup, Pricing
An archive of Twitter debate on this blogpost was captured by Storify 

1 comment:

David Sprott said...

Good start. Some comments:

1. I might suggest the definition is slightly less abstract. Also useful to think about Business Service Operations


Business Service: A service provided by an enterprise to its ecosystem of customers, suppliers or partners that provides one or more capabilities that facilitate a discrete business outcome according to a contract.


Business Service Operation: An execution of one or more capabilities provided by an enterprise to its ecosystem of customers, suppliers or partners according to a service contract.


2. I like the viewpoints. Suggest responsibility is bigger than just provider consumer. Information view required. Governance would be broader than cybernetic, covering the entire life cycle, not just operational.


The capability viewpoint describes the parcel of capability

The activity viewpoint captures the delivery protocol

The responsibility viewpoint captures the provider obligations

The contract viewpoint describes the agreement between provider and consumer

The motivation viewpoint covers the outcomes and performance measurement (especially relevant for outcome-based pricing)

The knowledge viewpoint covers service semantics

The information viewpoint provides reports on activity and metrics

The governance viewpoint covers compliance