Customer service model
The concept of IT as customer service is useful and valuable. At the time it was introduced it was also revolutionary. The current ITSM framework is solidly based on the customer service concept. Some people have even suggested that we should take the IT away from ITSM and concentrate on just Service Management.
I have been considering the opposite direction, taking the S out of ITSM. The customer service concept is based on three things. There is a customer, a service provider and a service. The customer wants something to happen and the service provider is willing and able to do it. The final step is defining the work as a service by setting limitations to it. For example if you hire somebody to clean your house, you have a cleaner, if you hire somebody to cook your meals, you have a cook and if you hire somebody to sleep with you, you have a prostitute. (If you have a person who does all three things, you have a spouse and that is not customer service.)
The Service is the boundary between IT and the Business and the SLA governs it.
There are important developments which are breaking the customer service concept. One is the partnership model. In it IT and the business work together for common goals. IT does not provide a service but does whatever is needed to reach the goal. IT may take on business roles and business can do IT work.
There is no practical boundary where one might set up an SLA. An artificial boundary will only complicate relationship.
Another situation is caused by a large distance between IT and the business. In this situation there is no customer relationship. The service provider provides something which is useful but the customer does not understand it or is not interested in it.
The something might be a platform that other service providers use but do not resell. Customer buys the service but does not understand it. Intelligent automation may create something which is considered as self evident. In this case the customer is only interested if the service fails but if there are no failures there is no need for a SLA.
It seems clear that a lot of ITIL practices are less than useful in non-traditional settings. SLA is such a central element in ITIL. I will try tome up with some practical suggestion how to operate without the SLA barrier. Comments and suggestions are welcome.