A service is delivered through the operation
of a service system, which the glossary defines as an integrated and
interdependent combination of component resources that satisfies service
requirements. The use of the word “system” in “service system” may suggest to
some that service systems are a variety of information technology, and that
they must have hardware, software, and other conventional IT components. This
interpretation is too restrictive. While it is possible for some components of
a service system to be implemented with information technology, it is also
possible to have a service system that uses little or no information
technology at all.
In this context, the word “system” should be
interpreted in the broader sense of “a regularly interacting or interdependent
group of items forming a unified whole,” a typical dictionary definition.
Also, systems created by people usually have an intended unifying purpose, as
well as a capability to operate or behave in intended ways. Consider a package
delivery system, a health care system, or an education system as examples of
service systems with a wide variety of integrated and interdependent component
Some may still have trouble with this
interpretation because they may feel that the way they deliver services is not
systematic, does not involve identifiable “components,” or is too small or
difficult to view through the lens of a systems perspective. While this
difficulty may in some cases be true for service provider organizations with
relatively immature practices, part of the difficulty may also be traced to an
overly narrow interpretation of the word “resources” in the definition of
The full extent of a service system encompasses
everything required for service delivery, including work products,
processes, tools, facilities, consumable items, and human resources. Some of
these resources may belong to customers or suppliers, and some may be
transient (in the sense that they are only part of the service system for a
limited time). But all of these resources become part of a service system if
they are needed in some way to enable service delivery.
Because of this broad range of included resource
types and the relationships among them, a service system can be something
large and complex, with extensive facilities and tangible components (e.g., a
service system for health care, a service system for transportation).
Alternatively, a service system could be something consisting primarily of
people and processes (e.g., for an independent verification and validation
service). Since every service provider organization using the CMMI-SVC model
must have at a minimum both people and process resources, they should be able
to apply the service system concept successfully.
Service providers who are not used to thinking of
their methods, tools, and personnel for service delivery from a broad systems
perspective may need to expend some effort to reframe their concept of service
delivery to accommodate this perspective. The benefits of doing so are great,
however, because critical and otherwise unnoticed resources and dependencies
between resources will become visible for the first time. This insight will
enable the service provider organization to effectively improve its operations
over time without being caught by surprises or wasting resources on
incompletely addressing a problem.