QLA: Do not jump over the meaning of a service in ITIL4, ask the 7 extra questions

Why is it important to spend more time in understanding what a service really is, while value is moving up in the value chain of ITIL? In this blog, I will highlight the major improvements of ITIL, and explain how you can explore together what a service is, by asking the 7 extra questions and creates the foundation of your QLA.

There are 4 major things evolving in ITIL. Where Strategy was the key thing in ITIL V3, value is the central element in ITIL4. Also, the processes in ITIL V3 became practices, and moved to the end of the training material. The “Value Chain way of thinking” has been introduced. A small change is the evolution from the 4 Ps (People, Process, Product and Partner) to the 4 Dimensions. My personal favourite is the Service relationships in ITIL4. There is still a relationship between a service provider and customer that needs to be managed, but the provider is also a customer, and by thinking in a relationship chain, it is also valuable to think further, about the client of your customer.

The Value of understanding Service

One of the most interesting things that I experienced, working with several organisations, is that most of them are not aware of what a service really is. If I ask:  “what is the most favourite service for your client (very helpful or effective), for your own organisation (nice profit) or for your own staff (easy to do)”, I realize that the organisation is not aligned. And sometimes, if I explore further what the meaning is of the word service (and product), a sensitive discussion starts. It seems that it has not been clarified within the organisation what a service exactly is. And let us be honest, ITIL is not helpful with their definition about a service either (A means of enabling value co-creation by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without the customer having to manage specific costs and risks). If you then want to explain that a service has a utility part, but also a warranty part, it becomes a bit more confusing.

So it is worthwhile to have this service discussion, which makes it more specific if you can say: “we provide access to a service, we have some goods that needs to be handed over to the client to make use of our service and ….. we do give support on our service from 9.00 – 18:00”. You can also split your service in a functional element (fit for purpose) and a second part: fit for use, which relates to how the service performs, (quality). But you should make the same split for the goods and the support. Support has also its functional part, (giving explanation “how to”), and the fit for use part, the moments that the support is available for example.

Co-creation, is doing the service exploration together

In the academic world the product view is called the “goods-dominant” (G-D) logic. The customer or service view is known as the “service-dominant” (S-D) logic. Service Dominant Logic (Vargo, Lusch source) describes the change in our founding pillars (or Foundational Premises as they call them) of our economy, where we embrace the concepts of “value-in-use” and “co-creation of value”. You can do this work together during the whole lifecycle of the service, in several sprints. This is the fun part of your work: You will realize (and realize) what the Minimum Viable Product is and make valuable steps for all the stakeholders, by using the seven extra questions below.

The 7 extra questions to understand your service -> QLA

Most of us, trained in ITIL, are used to ask the following two questions regarding a service

  1. What are all the functional elements (utility) of the service?
  2. What are all the functioning (warranty) or quality aspects of the service?

However, the real value is hidden in the 7 extra questions, that helps within the relationship to explore what you really want to do together. And remember: each service is a combination of goods, access to the service and the support on the service.

  1. What are all the functional elements (utility) or scope of the support related to the service?
  2. What are all the functioning (warranty) or behavioural aspects of the support related to the service?
  3. What are all the functional elements (utility) related to the good(s) within the service?
  4. What are all the functioning (warranty) or quality aspects related to the good(s) within the service?
  5. What are all the functional elements (utility) or scope of the support, related to the goods within the service?
  6. What are all the functioning (warranty) or behaviour aspects of the support, related to the goods within the service?
  7. And, is it clear who owns the goods within the service?

What I recently learned, you could use this nicely as a template for you SLA, or should we call it QLA? Question based Level Agreement. Enjoy, and find out what a service is for your customers!

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