Service management has been a hot topic in the research community for the last couple of years. However, due to the complexity of this research area, no commonly accepted definition of the terms service, service management, and the associated management tasks has evolved yet. This paper contributes to the ongoing process of defining these terms by proposing a top–down oriented and systematic methodology that is used to analyze and identify the necessary actors and the corresponding inter– and intra–organizational relationships. Then, a generic service model is introduced that defines commonly needed service– related terms, concepts and structuring rules in a general and unambiguous way. Since most of the work that is being presented here is still in flux, the service model is finally used to identify and structure open research questions.