The specification of business services (BS) is one of the key factors for success in service provision. Researchers and practitioners have identified a set of problems in BS specification, namely: communication problems between providers and buyers, inaccurate specifications and changes in requirements. These problems were identified in the software engineering (SE) field many years ago, resulting in the development of many techniques and tools to address them. Given the similarities between the two fields, the purpose of this paper is to identify the main lessons learned in SE and to propose how they can be adapted to the BS field.
The paper takes the form of a literature study and presents a conceptual solution.
To address communications problems and inaccuracies in BS specification, a formal requirements specification stage is required. Requirements should be set out in a well‐structured written, definition, document which can be used at a subsequent stage for design of the service (the definition of the solution). A requirements document for BS is proposed based on BS literature and SE methods. This document is based on the approaches used in the SE field for improving communication and reducing inaccuracies and covers the information needed in the BS field for specifying a business service. Second, a life cycle approach is proposed based on SE practice. It is shown that different lifecycle sequences can be used depending on the degree of fluidity in the communication between buyer and provider, the complexity of the BS and the stability of their requirements, with a repetitive process where specification and design are revisited iteratively and/or incrementally often being the most appropriate. This approach helps to stabilise requirements and to avoid inaccuracies being made in the specification.
This paper is literature based. Although still untested empirically in the BS field, the recommended approach has been intensively proved in the SE field.
Requirements specification is a necessary (monetary, time and resource) cost for successful BS provision. The BS industry must realise that requirements have to be set down in writing and agreed upon with customers before initiating the design of the service.
Peña‐Siles, J., del Mar González‐Zamora, M. and Machuca, J. (2012), "Specifying business services: learning from software engineering", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 97-119. https://doi.org/10.1108/09564231211208998Download as .RIS
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