The service ‘glue’ between business and technology

by | May 28, 2016

Bridging the Gap

In order to bridge the gap between business language, stated in terms of stakeholder requirements, and technology, which is becoming an ever larger web of complexity, we need some common ground. This is where services come in, as they glue the two worlds together. “Why call them services?” you may ask. Well, to be honest because this terminology is banded around with equal enthusiasm in both communities.

However, this is a problem too because both sides might think they’re talking about the same thing when in fact they are not. We can have business services and technical services in the same arena, linked together and joining back to their respective comfort zones – business requirements on the one side and technology on the other. Services are the glue that bind these together.

We can obviously have business requirements which do not require technology; there are many ways to solve a problem and technology may not be the most appropriate. There are also times when stakeholders may have lower priority requirements that are not addressed by current technical solutions.

We cannot (really) have technology that isn’t enabling a service that is satisfying a requirement. We can have enabling technology though which is so ubiquitous there’s no need to state the requirement, for example operating systems. I’d argue in this case that there’s also no need to model at this level because this won’t be a risk to the project as this stuff is usually quite well bedded down.

Putting it into practice

So, let’s define more clearly what is meant by a services, and specifically why this is different from a requirement as I know this can be a bit confusing at first. Let’s look at one of the Hubscope micro tutorials here. This tutorial talks you though how to link services to requirements as follows …

The requirements all start with a verb which is not a bad way to state a need:

  • Administer home network – we need to be able to maintain and fix the home network
  • Share photos – we want people on the network to be able to share their photos

The services are as follows:

  • Backup photos – this will copy photos to a secure copy somewhere, requirement but a defined service
  • Network maintenance – a service which is used to keep everything working properly
  • Post photos – the main service people will use
  • Secure internet access – this service lets people share with others who aren’t in the house
  • Send photos – another way to get photos to people is to email them rather than post them
  • Take photos – where it all begins

So joining together we get:

  • Backup photos links to Administer home network, unless the network is working backup won’t work
  • Backup photos links to Share photos, unless the photos are secured somewhere we won’t be able to find and share
  • Network maintenance links to Administer home network, we need to right network maintenance tools to administer it
  • Secure internet access links to Administer home network, someone needs to keep it safe using the right tools
  • Post photos links to Share photos, Send photos links to Share photos and Take photos links to Share photos combine to show how a single requirement (Share photos) can be satisfied in a number of ways.

Hopefully that helps to clarify things a little. Perhaps another way to express the difference is to imagine that requirements express business needs from the perspective of a stakeholder and services express how technology delivers a solution to those needs.

All Perspective

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