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A service inventory is a governed and standardized collection of services that complement and synergize with each other within a boundary, which represents the enterprise or a portion of it. Essentially, a service inventory is a collection of internal services such as communication and process improvement services that allow an organization to rapidly react to customer demand and offer greater quality, speed and performance to its customers at reasonable prices.
Service inventory is an integral part of the service-oriented architecture (SOA), which is an architectural pattern in computer software design meant to provide various services to other components of the system with the aim of improving business processes and increasing efficiency. For example, it might take the HR and finance departments a week to process all of the monthly salary documentation for all of the employees of the company including overtime, travel and activity reimbursements, deductions, tax, etc. But with the implementation of a service inventory that includes software or services geared toward automating and improving the process of the activities being done by HR and finance, the task could be minimized from a whole week to just two days.
Depending on the type of organization, on the type of products or services it offers to customers and on how it actually applies SOA, the various service inventories being implemented across the organization would vary. For example, the service inventory in a manufacturing company would be entirely different from the service inventory that an insurance firm would implement.