Service Offerings

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In our previous blogs, we've given emphasis on topics such as service management, value, organizations and people, and services and products. Today, let's consider the concept of a service offering. Service offerings is a concept that ITIL 4 exam takers need to be able to describe and discuss because it falls under the understand level of knowledge for the certification exam.

A service offering is a description of one or more services designed to address the needs of a target consumer group. In short, this is how a service provider presents and describes its services based on one or more of their products towards customers. Service offerings can include goods, access to resources, and service actions as part of that service offering. We won't look any further than the creator of itil.diontraining.com, Dion Training Solutions. Aside from the comprehensive course on ITIL 4, they also offer other products for other certification exams such as PRINCE2 and CompTIA certifications. The comprehensive courses package several products and a service together. Self-paced videos, study guides, and practice exams are examples of products while some amount of access to the instructor to ask questions is an example of a service.

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Let's say you are watching one of their videos as part of a single service offering that you've paid for or watching it as a part of a subscription service where you pay every month for access or maybe paid for it as a single course. It really depends on where you're accessing it from. You likely got a different service offering depending on where you end up getting the course from. For example, on their own website, diontraining.com, they don't offer one time purchases that give unlimited access for life, instead, they run a subscription based service, where members get access to every single certification course they offer for a low monthly fee. Because of this, students get access to hundreds of practice exam questions as part of that particular service offering. Unlike their own sites, other places where they distribute their courses may not offer a monthly fee based service where you can have as much as you want for as long as you want. Instead, they may treat the course as a single product to be sold. For a one-time payment, students can get all of the videos, the study guide, and maybe one or two practice exams. And if a student wants more practice exams, they're going to treat that as a separate course and students will to have to pay an additional payment to get those. So that's what a service offering is. Dion Training Solution's service offering just showed you how different products and services can be grouped and sold multiple times in multiple different ways, depending on the consumer being reached.

Other business and organizations practice exactly the same. They may offer things as a monthly service where different service offerings happen based on the different functionalities at different prices. Let's look at the popular video on demand service Netflix. The most affordable option, the basic plan is around $9 a month and it allows you to watch SD quality movies and TV shows on only one device. However, if you'd want HD-quality streaming, you may want to opt for the standard plan at around $13 and also watch on up to 2 devices. The highest priced package they offer is at $16 to watch HD quality movies and TV shows on up to 4 devices. So as you move up Netflix's pricing tier, you get additional services as part of their service offering.

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A service offering is a description of one or more services designed to address the needs of a target consumer group and can include goods, access to resources, and service actions as part of that service offering. Now, let's quickly define goods, access to resources, and service actions. Basically, goods are things that are supplied and transferred from the service provider to the consumer. And after the transfer, the consumer is now responsible for that future use. Let's say you went to your local telecoms provider to get cellphone service. They would be giving you a mobile phone so that you can use their services, but you're now responsible for that phone. Now if you break it and you did not get prior insurance coverage at an additional cost, chances are, you will to have to pay to get a new phone. On the other hand, if you lost it, were unable to notify them in advance and somebody made a thousand dollars’ worth of phone calls, you might get charged with that hefty amount on your bill. The goods, meaning the phone in this instance, was transferred from the service provider to you, and now you, as a consumer, are responsible for it.

The second thing a service might offer is to provide access to resources. This means that access to resources is granted, or a license is given to a consumer under some agreed terms and conditions. DionTraining.com is a great example of this. When you purchase a course on the site, you're given access to the videos, the practice exams, and hands-on labs if available. You're given a license to use them under the terms and conditions that you agreed to when you signed up. These resources all remain under DionTrianing.com’s control and they are responsible for ensuring that you can use them in the way it was promised.

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But sometimes consumers may not like the way the service provider is willing to let them use their service. For example, DionTraining.com doesn't allow videos to be downloaded because they're a subscription-based service. So if a student stops paying the monthly subscription fee, the student stops having access to those videos. It simply means that they don't want students to have the videos all downloaded where a student could sign up for their service one day, download all 20 of the courses and cancel service the next day. This is because they didn't transfer the ownership of that video to the student, instead they're just giving students the access or license to use the service and watch the videos as much as they want as long as the subscription remains active. Now, if students don't like those terms and conditions, they're going to have to find a different course or a different way to purchase that course that does allow them to have that one-time payment then download the videos and use those videos any way they want. But that would depend on the relationship between the service provider and consumer. The service provider controls the resource and give access to it under this service offering.

Now, the third thing that might be a part of a service offering is a service action. This is action performed to address a consumer's need. To be able to provide services through their websites, DionTraining pays for software licenses. On one of their websites, they use a piece of software as the basis of our learning management system. Now the purchasing of the license partly falls under goods. But there are different types of licenses that may affect how DionTraining provides its courses constantly and consistently to its students. The most affordable monthly license allows for expected features for the learning management systems but lacks technical support. Since DionTraining does not want to short-change its consumers, they opted for an annual license that has all the best features plus technical support so that when outages happen, they are prepared and have all the contingency plans in place. The extra that they have to pay for is part of the service offering which is considered a service action. So that's the difference between goods, access to resources, and service actions. Goods are going to be transferred over to the consumer. Access to the resources is going to let the consumer access them on the terms and conditions in the license that's been granted from the service provider. Service actions are going to be covering things that are going to be ongoing things like technical support and customer service fees. Remembering these terms and how they are defined will be one of the keys to passing the ITIL 4 exam.

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