ITIL v3: Utility and Warranty – two sides of the same coin

Utility and Warranty come handy when characterizing and checking the value of a IT Service as it progresses throughout its lifecycle.

Utility – Functionality offered by a Product or a Service to meet a particular need. Utility is often summarized as “what it does”.

Warranty – A promise or guarantee that a Product or a Service will meet its agreed requirements (“how it is done”).

These two concepts help in the definition of the Service Level Package (the closest concept to this with ITIL v2 would be the obscure Service Specification Sheets), a new ITIL v3 concept used in the Service Design phase in order to specify both Utility and Warranty for a particular Service Package being designed.

This in turn will feed the most important deliverable from Service Design: the Service Design Package, the IT Service’s blueprint during the next two phases (Service Transition and Service Operation), as the new or changed Service is developed, tested, transitioned into live environment, and then maintained day-by-day until it becomes obsolete.

The Customer will most certainly focus more on the Warranty aspects of a IT service after starting using it.

For example, if I go to a hairdresser to get a haircut (the Utility being the haircut service; it could also include shaving or hair dying) I’ll certainly be expecting that:

  1. It won’t take too long to get my hair cut
  2. My head suffers no harm
  3. I have a comfortable chair
  4. and so on…

All these build up my perception of “how the service is being delivered” – the Warranty.

We may say that (depending on your local habits), the hair washing may serve an Utility purpose (extra functionality besides the haircut) that can have a positive impact in the Warranty of the haircut service (if properly done…).

Likewise, when using a IT Service, the Customer is quite influenced by how well the Service Provider performs regarding, for instance, the agreed Availability, Capacity, Security and Continuity service levels (the Warranty).

And that level of Warranty may just be the distinctive advantage one Service Provider has against the competition (which quite probably is able to provide the very same functionalities… the Utility of a IT Service).


8 Responses to “ITIL v3: Utility and Warranty – two sides of the same coin”

  1. bigapplezlp Says:

    It’s interesting to see that the non-functional aspects of a service has a generic name, Warranty, in ITIL v3. I totally agree that in the beginning, the customer will focus on Utility. After the functions were validated, the “experience” or the “Warranty” part of the service start to make the difference.

  2. ITIL Says:

    A very nice example of service utility and warranty – thanks.

  3. Fernando Says:

    Hi, thanks for the easy to understand sample. Only with that I could really get this concepts.

    In a nutshell: if you are looking only for good price observes the Utility. If you are looking for quality too spend same time in the Warranty.

  4. Pablo Graterol Says:

    nice and very simple explanation!

  5. Courtney Rosenkoetter Says:

    Please help! My organization is struggling to understand the concepts of Utility and Warranty. I have developed another example for my team and I would like others to weigh in to the validity of my example.

    Service – Car wash

    Situation: Customer just arrived in Boise from long interstate road trip in the middle of the summer. Customers car has bug splats and dirt all over the exterior of their car. Customer also has a lot of dirt on the floor inside of the car and one of the floor mats has spilled soda on it. Customer takes his/her car to the dealership and requests that the car be washed. Car washing is one of the services that the dealership provides.

    Dealership’s Provided Utility:
    Clean exterior
    Clean interior
    Wipe down all interior surfaces
    Wash windows
    Wipe door jams

    Customer’s Expected Utility:
    Clean exterior
    Clean interior
    Wipe down all interior surfaces
    Wash windows
    Wash floor mats

    Results: The customer receives the car back after the dealership had completed the work. All of the utility that the dealership promised was provided, but while the dealership was buffing the car they buffed off of the hood of the car.

    Because the customers expected utility of the service closely matched the dealerships provided utility the utility should be considered high.

    Because the dealership did a poor job buffing the car the warranty should be considered low.

    • rumagoso Says:

      Courtney, your example is quite valid. It is true the dealership provided all expected utility although it didn’t quite live up to expected quality of the service due to incomplete buffing (missed the hood). Depending on the audience I might simplify the example by having less detail on utility – well, it makes for a complete utility description.

      Actually it may be better to include all detail so it’s easier for your colleagues to come up with other poor warranty candidates like not cleaning under floor mats, not washing the smaller windows…

      Interesting that eliminating one or more of the 10 activities comprising the car washing utility will most certainly have a negative impact on the perceived service warranty (of course in that case it is easier to successfully complain and get some kind of compensation).

      Thoughts on this anyone?

      Até já,

      P.S. – I’ve drawn a Mush and Room cartoon on this subject – it may help to illustrate the haircut example…

  6. doc Says:

    good explanation, thanks for this
    in my opinion, utility and warranty describe a VERY important issue in IT service management.

    on the other hand, it is yet another example of gawky ITIL terminology. non-english speaking community will always have a problem accepting it and it willl probably be redefined in ITIL 2022.

  7. ITSM Weekly the Podcast (Week29) - Guest Speaker:Matt Blair & Taj Peeran - Matthew Hooper VigilantGuy Blog Site - IT Strategy, Leadership & IT Service Management Says:

    […] Utility and Warranty […]

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