A service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.

In the past, service providers often focused on the technical (supply side) view of what constituted a service, rather than on the consumption side.


Service management is a set of specialised organisational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.

Service management is what enables a service provider to:

  • understand the services that they are providing from both a consumer and provider perspective;
  • ensure that the services really do facilitate the outcomes that their customers want to achieve;
  • understand the value of those services to their customers and hence their relative importance;
  • understand and manage all of the costs and risks associated with providing those services.

These ‘specialised organisational capabilities’ include the processes, activities, functions and roles that a service provider uses in delivering services to their cus­tomers, as well as the ability to establish suitable organisation structures, manage knowledge, and understand how to facilitate outcomes that create value.


Enterprises operating in dynamic environments need to improve their performance and maintain competitive advantage. Adopting practices in industry-wide use can help to improve capability. The term ‘best practice’ generally refers to the ‘best possible way of doing something’. As a concept, it was first raised as long ago as 1919, but it was popularised in the 1980s through Tom Peters’ books on business management.

The idea behind best practice is that one creates a specification for what is accepted by a wide community as being the best approach for any given situa­tion. Then, one can compare actual job performance against these best practices and determine whether the job performance was lacking in quality somehow. Alternatively, the specification for best practices may need updating to include les­sons learned from the job performance being graded.

Enterprises should not be trying to ‘implement’ any specific best practice, but adapting and adopting it to suit their specific requirements. In doing this, they may also draw upon other sources of good practice, such as public standards and frameworks, or the proprietary knowledge of individuals and other enterprises as illustrated in Figure 1.1.


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