Merging “Application”, “Service”, and “Products”

In the IT4IT Standard, Version 2.1 [C171] and in typical IT Service Management (ITSM) practices, the term “service” has been used to describe the core consumable output that the IT organization will manage throughout its lifecycle.

“Application” is a common term that overlaps “service” in common IT usage. The word “product”, often used to describe the same concept, has also become popular in Agile practice to reference development teams’ “code” delivery.

While acknowledging the ambiguity arising from choosing any of these terms, a single, simplified approach using one abstract unifying term, “Digital Product”, is used to clarify the intention of how the term “service” was used in previous IT4IT versions, and to consolidate the management aspects required for “application,” “service,” and “product” as described above.

The term “Digital Product” aligns well with recent trends and business semantics (such as those documented in DevOps and Agile practices and illustrated in IT management “Project to Product” directions and associated shifts in Financial Management), and with reorganizing the work of separate silos into single cross-functional teams.

Product Management disciplines have become a focus for traditional IT organizations, and in startup Digital Product teams that need to scale up as they grow. In both scenarios, the IT4IT Standard provides value. Product Management is a proven, mature competency with well established roles, activities, frameworks, lifecycle management approaches, and so on. Adopting “product” as the governing metaphor within the IT4IT Standard brings this acumen to the fore. The IT4IT Standard does not formally define the role of a Product Manager; instead we focus on defining Digital Product in the context of the main value streams, functional components, and data models required to manage them.

The IT4IT Standard is part of a solution set that supports Digital Transformation, connecting proven management practices with newer methods. For many successful organizations, Product Management and IT management roles will converge and unite into a new competency we call “Digital Product Management” a fundamental capability for managing digital.