Pattern: Orphaned Service

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A service with no clear owner

Typically services are owned by someone who is allowed to make changes. In some situations, they are owned by everyone, such as in Open Service Ownership . Sometimes however they may be owned by nobody.

This can occur when the team that built them has been disbanded, or an organisational change means that a teams responsibilities have shifted so that they are no longer working on this area of the system. A very common cause of services becoming orphaned can result from services not having been changed for a long period of time because they are so stable. There was never a conscious decision that ownership by a specific team should lapse, but one day someone realises they need to make a change and can't find out who to go to.

IT Organisations that primarily use projects to carry out work will find they have more Orphaned Services. Teams being brought together for a short period of time to achieve some goal, then to be disbanded or reassigned once the project is over, are more likely to leave behind artifacts with no clear owner. Organisations with more of a product-oriented mindset, where teams are typically assigned to areas of the business over a longer period of time, it is often easier to assign ownership. A team who look after Customer Intelligence functionality will end up owning all systems that are associated with Customer Intelligence.

Once a service becomes orphaned and changes are needed to be made, then you have some options. If it is a short-term measure, then using Temporary Service Ownership may make sense. Alternatively you could take this chance to set up a model.

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