Is It a Service?

A service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs or risks. ITIL v3, Service Design

A service is a coherent, ready-to-use deliverable that is of value to the customer. Services allow customers to do business without worrying about underlying technology or IT infrastructure. If an offering meets these broad criteria from the customer’s perspective, it is probably a service and should be at least minimally defined (see below).

An IT Service exhibits the following characteristics:

  • Fulfills one or more needs of the customer.
  • Supports the customer’s business objectives.
  • Is perceived by the customer as a coherent whole or consumable product.

When trying to determine whether an offering is a service, consider the following:

  1. If someone can request and purchase it, it is probably a service.
  2. If it can be viewed as an add-on or an option of a service, it should be considered a part of that service and not a service of its own.
  3. Applications, themselves, are not services but often enterprise systems services are known by the application name, e.g. FIS, AIS, Data Warehouse. The principles of service management can still be applied and often with a business partner.

Other options if it's not a service:

  • It could be a feature or a part of a service.
  • It may be supporting infrastructure, an IT system, or a Configuration Item.

Describing and defining services:

Services need to be described from the customer’s perspective. Services should not be defined by the underlying technology. For example, a service might be “providing a campus calendar”; it would not be “providing Google calendar.

If an existing services has not been defined, it should go through the process so the client is clear on what is and is not included, and so that ITS service providers are aligned in service support and delivery. If there is a change planned for a service, service definition process can be used to update materials for the client or the service providers. For more details, see:

Additional Information:

For questions, additional information, or feedback please contact Client Services and Support using the ITS Feedback form