One of the first topics I stress when I teach ITIL Foundation courses,  is the difference between a service and a process. In general, we all know that services bring value to customers and processes deliver measurable and predefined results. Also, a known fact is that good processes support an optimal way in the delivery of great services.

Let me give you a quick example: Daily wine delivery to a restaurant. Let’s imagine you are not an expert in wines, but want every day to receive a great selection of wine(s) with pre-agreed quality and price delivered on the same time every day to your restaurant. This is the service and it should have an owner. The service owner must make sure that there is a clear understanding of the value the service delivers within the service provider and to the customer. Now to get this bottle there is a person responsible for selecting the right wine for you, there is another person responsible for bringing this wine on time to your restaurant and end-to-end there is a process owner accountable that the whole thing happens as smooth as possible. This is a process.

Sounds simple to understand the difference and manage, so where is the issue here?

I was listening to a great seminar last week regarding the Open Group IT4IT Reference Architecture standard when I realized that one of the major challenges each company faces when implementing ITSM is to make the transition from a result-driven organization to a value-driven organization and standards like the above are aimed exactly at this pain point. Having an end to end value chain is a must in the modern IT world.

During my last few implementation projects, I noticed that my customers were more focused on the results the processes will deliver, rather than thinking about the end to end value of the whole chain. It seems to me that they have forgotten that there is a customer at the end and this customer expects a certain value from those service providers. Of course, I made my point on this, but somehow the focus remained on the results and although the implementations were all on time and considered very good I kept thinking that we are missing something and that the final note is to be given by the customers. ITIL teaches us clearly that value is defined by the customer.

So how to stay on track? My advice here will be to start each implementation project with the clear definition of the value that the customer expects to receive. The value can be defined in different ways, directly from the customer, from the business or by using the classical Utility and Warranty way of ITIL. The main point is that it is defined and measurable. Don’t forget to keep it simple and smart.

I also strongly suggest for each service to appoint an owner. The ownership will ensure that the initial value definition is preserved when changes to the service delivery happen. Imagine that you outsource the wine delivery to a subcontractor. Theoretically the value should stay the same, but is it? Can it happen, that the new delivery company has drivers who are rude and don’t like to shower much? Will this influence the value? I am sure it will!

Once you have defined the value and assigned an owner you can start your project. The project implementation can be done via my favorite CSI Approach, where your Vision is more or less delivering in an optimal way the value each customer expects. Making a baseline where you are, defining a measurable end state and producing a plan on how to get there is a straightforward process. Once you reach the desired state it will be very obvious that your customers are happy, so for you it should be no problem to keep this level and move on.

If the project is big enough, the project management office will need to be involved. They will make sure that the scope, budget and timeline are within the tolerances. Keep in mind that it isn’t a problem to have the project manager, service owner and process owner working together.

The main reason I wanted to write this article was to stress one more time that processes deliver results, but services bring the value to the customer. Each has to have an owner as they have a different purpose and need to be managed accordingly.


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Nikola Gaydarov

Nikola Gaydarov

Contributing Author

Nikola has been in the IT sector for almost 10 years. He started his career in HP Global Delivery Center back in 2007 and since then has been involved in many different roles: technical consultant, operational manager, transition manager and ITSM implementation consultant. During these years he has worked both domestically and in Western Europe.

Designing and improving processes is his passion. Working with the stakeholders to define all roles and responsibilities is where he finds most of the challenges. Proposing solutions and solving those challenges is his biggest reward.

He has started teaching ITIL® since the beginning of 2015 after successfully becoming an ITIL® Expert. Courses that he has successfully delivered are: ITIL® Foundation, ITIL® OSA, ITIL® RCV, ITIL® PPO, ITIL® SOA and ITIL® MALC.

As a consultant Nikola has gained also a lot of practical experience in Project Management. He used this experience to successfully acquire PRINCE2® Practitioner certification.


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