The Adaptive Service Model

The Taking Service Forward initiative has launched the first release of the Adaptive Service Model, you can see the official announcement here. This model is the first step on the way to an open architecture for service management. I’d like to share some of my thoughts about what the model is, why we need it, and how it might evolve in the future.

This model is owned by a community called Taking Service Forward. The initial members were invited to participate, but in a few weeks anyone will be able to join by making contributions to the architecture. If you want to see announcements about this then join the Taking Service Forward community on Google+, or the  group on Facebook or on LinkedIn .  You can also see more details about the history of Taking Service Forward on these sites.

This first release is a “meta-model” showing the types of things that will be in the actual architecture. For example it includes “process” and “role” but not any specific processes or roles.

Adaptive Service Model - Abstraction - Diagram v0.11
This diagram shows a very high level view of the model.

Even at the level shown in this diagram there are some interesting things that you can see about the model:

  • There is no reference to IT. This is not an IT service model, it is a generic model about services. It can certainly be used by people who manage IT services, but the intent was to start at a higher level where the key concept is “service”, not “IT service”.
  • There is a symmetrical relationship between the service provider and the service consumer. This is not a model about how service providers create services, it is about how service providers and service consumers work together to create value based on using services. The service consumer plays just as important a role in this relationship as the service provider: both provider and consumer receive outputs and outcomes from the service; and both provider and consumer must have suitable processes and roles to enable the creation of service value.

The meta model has been published as three entities:

  • A document which describes the concepts, modelling language and principles
  • The model itself. This is an entity-relationship diagram which has been created in ArchiMate®, an open and independent modelling language for enterprise architecture. You need to install the free, open source Archi software to open the model, but you can download a diagram showing all the entities and relationships if you want to see the model without being able to make edits
  • A table with descriptions and attributes for each entity and relationship

The Adaptive Service Model is open source, released under a creative commons license, so it can be freely used by anyone, even in a modified form – so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.

Use of the meta model

The main use of the meta model will be as a foundation for creating an architecture, with much more specific entities. For example the meta model has entities called “process” and “role”, the architecture will show all the different processes and roles needed by both service providers and service consumers. The meta model will be useful for a number of purposes, even with the current very generic level of detail:

  • Facilitating discussions between service providers and service consumers, helping them to articulate their needs and expectations
  • Helping managers in service provider and service consumer organizations educate their staff about service relationships, management, governance and other high level concepts
  • Providing a context to help different types of service providers (and consumers) discuss what is common between them, to help create opportunities were we can learn from people in different industries
  • Improving our ability to provide mapping between standards and best practices by providing a consistent, common language for the highest level entities

Next stages

The next stage of our work will be to validate the meta model, correct any aspects that need improvement, and complete missing content. The intent is that this should be done with open participation from the service management community so that we can pull on the widest possible breadth of knowledge.

Once the meta model is complete there will be two more stages to this work:

1)     Creating a detailed service architecture, based on the meta model. This architecture could be used for a number of purposes.

  • It could help the owners of different best practices and standards improve their alignment with each other
  • It could provide a formal structure for service management, to help organizations create and review their systems for governance and management of IT
  • It could be further developed to create industry specific variants (for example an IT service management architecture)
  • It could provide a framework for future releases of best practice such as ITIL, to improve internal consistency while allowing for a natural, narrative, style of communication

2)     Creating a detailed ontology, based on the architecture. An ontology would define detailed protocols for interoperability, for example an “incident exchange” message format. A formal ontology has many potential uses, including:

  • Enabling tool vendors to create inter-operable tools based on open source, published definitions
  • Helping people designing complex multi-supplier solutions to specify the requirements for interchange of incidents, changes, problems and other records

The work has only just started, and there is a huge amount to do to get to our end goal, but I think it will be worth the effort. Please download the model and see what you think of it. Then consider signing up to contribute to the future development of this Adaptive Service Model, it will only be as good as the people who take part. You can offer feedback using any of the community groups listed at the beginning of this article, and in a few weeks you will be able to submit change requests and become a member of the Taking Service Forward initiative that owns the model.

itSMF Estonia Preview: Standardizing the delivery of public services

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Janek Razov

Ahead of his presentation at itSMF Estonia, we caught up with Janek Rozov, Head of Information Society Services Development Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in Estonia has taken the lead in standardizing the delivery of public services. Can you please explain why this initiative has been undertaken and what is the value for the Public Sector and for citizens?

One reason is that satisfaction about public e-services that are provided by different authority’s varies from 37% – 91% (e-service) and awareness about public e-services is very low (approximately 30%). We have very a complicated overview about how many services are provided by authorities and right now we don’t have a (much-needed) structure to describe the meaning of public service in the same language for all service providers. The primary benefits of standardizing the delivery of public services would be for:

  • Citizens – increasing awareness and satisfaction.
  • Public Sector – understand that kind of services is necessary to change

What kind of guidance for the Public Sector have you already created and published?

To date, we have created:

  • Green Paper – Organisation of Public Services – it was approved on 16th May this year in the Government Cabinet meeting. It was a one and a half year-long process before approving. We ran lot of workshops and discussions with public authority representatives as well as with organisations representing different clients groups.
  • Public sector business processes – Process Analysis Handbook – We published this in summer; it is a handbook based on public sector practice in the field of process analysis. 5 departments and 1 local government agency were involved in its creation.
  • Creating preconditions to improve quality of public services by ICT means – Approved in October 2013, this program consists of three primary parts: awareness in field of new e-solutions and principals in public sector (trainings and information days); analyses and conceptions (e.g. information governance vision (documents management vs information governance)); and Pilot projects.

There can be many challenges when coordinating Service Management activities between various Public Sector organisations. Any advice on how to overcome these?

The main principal that our departments try to follow is “think big do small”, anything we want to implement is first test in ‘pilot project’ mode. Pilot projects help us to achieve collaboration and trust between our team and the people from different authorities.  It also helps us work out what works and what doesn’t.

How does Public Sector Service Management differ from the Private Sector?

In my opinion there are no differences in its management. You need to understand the clients need and provide them with services to fit these needs regardless of whether it’s in the Private Sector or the Public Sector.

Can public sector organisations from other countries learn from your achievements?

Yes we continously share information about our experience in public service development at different conferences and via our ministry web page.

How do you see the future of the initiative – what does the roadmap for the next few years look like and what are the main outcomes you are hoping to deliver?

  • Publish “public sector e-service design handbook”, which will be based on “Road authority pilot project in summer – autumn 2013”
  • Cannel strategy for providing public services
  • Public services portfolio management model
  • Pilot project in field of public e-services design (teaching, analysis (AS-IS –ToBi), e-service design)

itSMF Estonia

Janek will present at itSMF Estonia on 11th December at 14.25. His presentation will be in Estonian with slides/translation in English. An overview of his session is as follows:

Estonia is a country where most of the interactions citizens need to have with the government can be done online – submitting applications and notices, registering the birth of a child, voting on local government council and parliamentary elections, filing taxes, starting a company, etc. The public sector is focused on making these experiences as smooth as possible and the results have been well received by both the citizens and the entrepreneurs, and noticed by the countries.

The Department of Information Society Services Development within the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is leading the standardisation of the delivery of public services and ensuring the development of customer centric physical and virtual environments based on available IT solutions. They have recently published the Green Book on Management of Public Services, which covers the main challenges of delivering public services and provides a set of proven solutions. The models described in the Green Book have already been successfully applied to several projects. This presentation describes the these models and shows how the public sector and potentially the private sector can use this BoK when designing and improving their services.