Supporting Service vs. Enabling Service?

General discussion on all aspects of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
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Eric CTN
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Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:19 am


Can someone explain me when I shall use "Supporting" and when I shall use "Enabling" when talking about a Service?

To me they mean the same, just depends on the context. Ie,
- I do understand "Supporting" concept when comparing with "External Customer facing" and "Internal Customer facing" services.
- I do understand "Enabling" concept when comparing with "Core" and "Enhancing" Services.
(...or maybe I do not and that's why I mix them up! :D )

Anyway, at the end of the day, if in the middle of a conversation with a colleague I would have to talk about a Service that is not "Core" / "Customer Facing", I wouldn't know whether to call that Service "Enabling" or "Supporting".



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Corde Wagner
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Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:46 pm

Hi Eric,
Because it's my experience that practitioners and customers don't refer to services using the enhancing or supporting terms, I would have to generalize my answer that these terms would be limited to a discussion with someone who very familiar with the ITIL framework. I would also guess since I had to look them up, that most of us would simply keep it to internal or external (facing) services. Almost any company I've been at, they used and understood the term "external customer" or "customer facing".

That said and again from having refreshed my memory from the SS book, these were my take away's that differentiated support services from enhancing:
1. "Supporting services" enable IT processes and services, but are not directly visible to the customer.
2. "Supporting services" only exist to be combined with other supporting services to produce customer-facing services.

In my view, enabling is all about the external customer and wowing them, and supporting services refers to what our IT services and processes need to deliver the enabling services.

Does this help?
Corde Wagner
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Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:48 am

I agree with Corde - supporting or enabling services (I would agree that the two terms used in an ITIL context are synonyms) are only meaningful (IMO) for the IT service provider. A supporting or enabling service is needed to deliver a core service; e.g without the supporting service of "network" (broadly generalized), most core services could not be consumed. Yet, we would not and do not expect the consumer or the business to ask for "network".

An analogy that I have found useful to differentiate "core", "enabling", and "enhancing" services is water. As a homeowner, I am happy to pay for water - the core service. Enabling my consumption of water is the "pipe" and the "meter" - although I may know that these two things are present, I don't see them or directly interact with them. To enhance my experience with water, I also purchase a "water heater" (enhancing service) so that I can have a hot shower.
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