The terms “Owner” and “Manager” seemed to be well interpreted and understood across the industries. 

At a high-level, Owner is accountable for a service/process/task/product (by ensuring that the expected outcome & quality is delivered, maintained and improved) – whereas Manager is responsible for the same (by ensuring adherence/compliance and consistency)

Now the words are used in different frameworks – including ITIL. The intention of this post is to high-light a misinterpretation that has been observed in people’s mind regarding their usage in the ITIL documentation.

First, ITIL differentiates process Owner and Process Manager – in accordance with the accepted definition:

Process owner is responsible to ensure the process is fit for purpose – including, planning, design, implementation, monitoring and improvement of the process.

Process Manager is responsible for the operational management of the process.

Secondly ITIL defines the role of Service Owner:

A Service Owner is accountable for a specific Service – end-to-end.

Ok, so Service Manager is …. Uh oh! Hold on….

Service manager is not a role just responsible for operational management of specific service. This one one obvious assumption people can get into, because of the comparison of the Process manager definition.

According to ITIL, ‘this important role manages the development, implementation, evaluation and ongoing management of  new products and Services.’ The description goes on to say they are responsible for achieving objectives and strategies.

The definition also says ‘Service manager is responsible for managing end-to-end life cycle of the service.’

Now one thing is beyond me – why Service manager role will be concerned about Products!

Ignoring that as a possible typo/overlook in editing- this definition brings in a lot of overlap between Service manager and Service owner – though interpretations can be derived to differentiate these roles. 

But this is some thing frameworks should try and avoid: leaving much to interpretations…