Principles and Structure of Service Design in IT

principles-and-structure-of-service-design-in-itWhat are the Principles of Service Design?
Experts lay out five general principles of Service Design:

  • User Centered
  • Co-Creative
  • Sequencing
  • Evidencing
  • Holistic

Let’s consider them in details.

--> Services and Service Design in IT

User Centered

Service Design is user centered
Consumer is in the center of Design

User Centered principle helps to put the consumer at the focus of design process and look through his eyes. Sometimes that is easier said than done. The main problem here is miscommunication between Consumer and Provider. The situation when the user and IT specialist don’t understand each other, despite the fact that they speak the same human language, is typical. The reason is they have individual background experience and needs. A User-Centered approach in that we have to find “a common language we can all speak; the service user’s language.” (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012)

The Cynefin framework, which I’ll describe in details later, is a good example of common language definitions those are used to explain the state of the service and dynamic processes during its design.


Service Design co-creation
Co-creation adds value to a service

Co-Creation is about an integration of service stakeholders into the design process. “Through co-creation customers get the chance to add value to a service in partnership with the service provider early in development of the service. The more a customer gets in the service provision, the more likely this service is of evoking co-ownership which in turn will result in increased customer loyalty and long-term engagement” (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012).


Service Design sequencing
Sequencing is focused on the rhytm of service

Services are dynamic processes that occur over a period. Sequencing is focused on services’ timeline, rhythm and how they impact the mood and perception of the customer.
Right sequencing is like a movie with several scenes. “This movie would consist of a series of static pictures, which would be combined to create a moving sequence. Service design thinking uses this analogy to deconstruct service processes into single touchpoints and interactions. These, when combined, create service moments.” (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012).

Issue Tree (I’m going to describe it later) helps to reveal and control Sequencing during the Service Design process. Value flow chain is the tool that contributes to check and manage Sequencing in service delivery.


Service Design evidencing
Evidencing makes service more tangible

Evidencing makes intangible processes in a background of services more tangible and easier to understand, use and memorize the positive impression about the service itself. Folded toilet paper and chocolates on a pillow in a hotel room are good examples of delicate evidencing of housekeeping service. Spinning hourglass or running status line visualize behind the scenes data processing and make a customer less impatient about the wait time. Final documentation, regular reporting by email or in printed form, certificate of proof signed by a client are tangible traces of intangible services.


Service Design holistic
Service Design have to coversituation on wide context

Service Design should be Holistic and has to take into consideration the entire environment of a service. “Genuinely working in a holistic way is an illusion, it is just impossible to consider every single aspect of a service. However, the intention should always be to see the wider context in which a service process takes place… The system design of an organization, its inherent culture, values and norms as well as its organizational structure and processes are important issues for the design”. (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012)


Does Service Design process have a structure?

“Although design processes are in reality nonlinear, it’s possible to articulate and outline structure. It is important to understand that this structure is iterative in its approach. This means that at every stage of a Service Design process, it might be necessary to take a step back or even start again from scratch. The single but very important difference is in ensuring that you learn from the mistakes of the previous iteration. Thus proposed process is just rough framework and should not be considered a prescriptive, linear how-to guide.” (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012) In other words, the structure described below is not a step-by-step process, but a navigational tool for the designers.

The Squiggle
“The Squiggle” by Damien Newman represents iteratively chaotic but structured by nature design process

Various authors have proposed many SD processes.

Service Design process described by different authors
There are several views on Service Design process, adopted from (Srinivasan, 2012)

(Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012) defined 4 phases of SD:
Explore  Explore
Create  Create
Reflect  Reflect
Implement  Implement

Down-to-up stream is sequential. Reverse jumps can be from any to any phases.

Service Design is iterative
Four phases of Service Design are iterative

Exploration, Creation, and Reflection are mostly applied to a Meta-service. Leading and facilitating role in these stages plays Service Designer. Implementation is intended for the service itself. That is the phase managed by Service Provider and Consumer. Service Designer can assist them and has to get leadership role if iterative rollback to the previous steps is required.

Service Design considers meta-services and services
Service Design consists of meta-service and service

Phase 1: Exploration

Explore  Exploration is a period of opportunity recognition, information collection, pre-processing and job statement creation. We need to:

  • determine required outcome
  • discover environment and context
  • define the service task

McKinsey consulting company advice to “start with structure, not data.” So Exploration requires preliminary preparation of such structure using questionnaires, checklists, and other tools. They are used both online or during live interviews.

Exploration has to be
and Holistic.

When some information is needed but unavailable for any of reason, realistic assumptions should be made and confirmed by the stakeholders. “The reason we declare assumptions at the start of our work is so that we can identify project risks. Once you have a list of assumptions, you need to figure out which ones are the riskiest so that you can work on them first… The goal is to prioritize a set of assumptions to test based on their level of risk (i.e., how bad would it be if we were wrong about this?) and how much understanding we have of the issue. The higher the risk and the more unknowns involved, the higher the priority to test those assumptions.” (Gothelf, 2013)

Exploration phase is to discover
Exploration phase is to discover

Examples of Exploration phase deliverables:

  • Job Statement
  • Inventory
  • Scope of work
  • Project plan

Phase 2: Creation

Create  Creation phase is intended for service ideation and concept generation. This phase is “not about avoiding mistakes, but rather about exploring as many as possible mistakes. The crux is to make them as early as possible in the process and learn from these as much as possible before you implement or adopt the new concepts. The cost of an additional iteration during the stage of the concept design is marginal compared to the cost of failure with this concept after its lunch.” (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012).

The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.

Creation has to be
and Sequencing.

That is a very creative phase in the right meaning of the word. According to (Higgins, 1994) “Creativity is the process of generating something new that has value. There are many original ideas and concepts, but some may not have value and hence may not be considered creative.” Later we’ll discuss outcome-driven job statement that helps to be focused on the value and direct our creativity.

Creation phase is to ideate
Creation phase is to ideate

Examples of this phase deliverables:

  • Conceptual design of the solution
  • Functional design
  • Technical design
  • Description of the ways to resolve specific problems
  • Methodology Explanation

Creation generates ideas for the next Reflection phase.

Phase 3: Reflection

Reflect  Service consumers, providers and designers “need a good mental picture of the future service concept.” (Stickdorn & Schneider, 2012) The primary task of Reflection phase is to make intangible services evident. Visualization, mockups, and conceptual prototyping are used to test insights and concepts that were developed during iterations of Creation phase.

Reflection has to be
and Evidencing.

Creativity is crucial, but we still have to be very pragmatic with a Reflection of ideas. Our tests and prototypes shouldn’t be very realistic, but good enough to decide if they satisfy our tasks.
Usually, there are many iterations between Reflection and Creation phases. Sometimes they are considered as a single Creation/Reflection phase.

Reflection phase is to visualize and prototype
Reflection phase is to visualize and prototype

Examples of this phase deliverables:

  • Methodology prototypes and schemas in Excel
  • Gant diagrams in MS Project
  • Processes diagrams
  • Different kinds of graphs
  • Org-structure
  • Functional and technical design diagrams
  • Roadmaps
  • Test Plan and tests itself

Phase 4: Implementation

Implement  The final phase of service design process is about actual Implementation of previous phase’s consequences. Provider introduces and operates the service. A consumer walks through all steps and evaluates if service is satisfactory. Accomplishment usually consists of both functional and emotional factors.

Implementation has to be
and Evidencing.

Functional factors describe the tasks that consumer needs to achieve. Usually, these are different variants of Value, Time or Quality (VTQ) metrics. Examples from the data storage world are a capacity of accessible file system exports (Value), period to provision new storage resources (Time) or Response Time of the block volume (Quality).

Emotional factors are related to feelings and perception. According to (Tuulaniemi, 2011) cited by (Kekkonen, 2012) these are “instant feelings and personal experiences, pleasantness of the experience, easiness, attractiveness, enthusiasm, atmosphere, style, and ability to touch senses.” Of course, they are very subjective.

Implementation phase is to deliver service
Implementation phase is to deliver service

Examples of this phase deliverables:

  • Change management
  • Hardware/Software installation
  • Resource provisioning
  • Post implementation review
  • Brief overview for management
  • Final report
  • Knowledge transfer
  • User documentation


Characteristics of services in IT -->

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