Service Design – Establishing the Process Neural Network (Pt 2)

By Pratik Bose & David Davies

Click here to read Part 1 of this Insight

How Service Design Helps

Service Design provides the main platform and supporting pillars that enable an organization to deliver the new or improved product or service in a more productive way, with defined rules that are as efficient as possible.

It is much like the body’s neural network in that it conveys a message but does not perform the actions. Hence, Service Design works best when performed by a separate centralized function rather than calling upon Operations or Product teams to create and follow the principles themselves.

Service Design understands the business requirements from the stakeholders, the expected impact that this change will have, and how the potential solution will enable the delivery of the product or service. It then identifies the gaps in the process network that would block the upgrade of the product or service from the current state into the future state.

In case there are gaps that cannot be overcome in a single step, incremental deliveries should be considered. This may result in the delivery of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) focused on what is necessary, followed by interim solutions as the changes are gradually assimilated into the organization.

Service Design – The Solution

The Service Design solution should be the most viable option to deliver a completely new product or service (or its increments or enhancements), as per the documented requirements. The organizational requirements can be broadly classified as:

  • Business requirements
  • Stakeholder requirements
  • Solution requirements (functional and non-functional requirements and Security and Transition requirements)

A hierarchy of requirements is usually prepared and prioritized according to value to business and complexity in implementation, as well as time criticality using tools like WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) used in SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework).

At a high level, this is achieved using the following processes:

  • Business Process Flows Modelling
  • Stakeholder Engagement for Delivery & Support Operations

Service Design – Business Process Modelling

Business Process Modelling is a visual mechanism that shows how an organization of discrete teams are connected in a service network and work to deliver the requirements. It designs or improves processes, defining how the different Operations teams interwork and connect with each other.

Akin to the neural network in the human body, the process flow communicates and triggers actions in the service network. This is from one team to another, informing who does what, in which order, and how communication takes place with a view to the end-to-end (e2e) process.

At a glance, it shows the interaction of people, processes, and technologies that are required to create the intended product or service. It shows the steps required for the process and it makes clear who is involved within the e2e process.

Responsibility for creating a Service Design falls to the Service Designer. To initially identify the key components of the service, the Service Designer needs to split a complex service into separate sections, then design a solution that can be utilized by the users. This solution should consider the people/actors, processes, associated applications systems/automated solutions, and their relative positions.

The Service Designer needs to comprehend the connections between the customers (internal and external) and those providing the service at every distinct state of the process, and then understand any impacts from an e2e perspective.

Service Design – Process Flow

The process flow diagram is an inherently simple model that is necessary for a well-executed Service Design. It informs each impacted operational area with the context of their interaction as part of the logical flow and how they interface with each other. It shows the sequence of activities that are executed by the stakeholders all the way from the initial trigger of process activity commencement through to its completion.

These models provide a useful mechanism to present how the potential future state adds on to or differs from the way things are currently done. This highlights the gaps between the two in a comparable format that can easily be comprehended by the range of stakeholders.

It effectively informs all stakeholders on how teams will interact as well as how the information, data, and triggers from internal and external teams will pass between the different areas.

The process model diagram should ideally be self-explanatory. The diagram itself must be detailed enough to be fully contextualized and self-explanatory, ensuring greater understanding by the range of stakeholders. 

Service Design – Importance of Stakeholder Engagement

It is crucial that the design is reviewed with the identified stakeholders before being put into place so that everyone is aligned and the process can begin smoothly. This ensures the use cases and scenarios are correctly designed in the solution, and it tackles the underlying reason for development.

The network of processes and how they interwork with each other ensures that one area of the solution does not adversely affect another part of the solution. A RACI (Responsible / Accountable / Consulted / Informed) Chart is an important tool as a responsibility identifier and assignment matrix, wherein the stakeholders are categorized. Within this categorization, it is important to recognize that the higher a stakeholder’s involvement, the higher the chances that they will back the final design and positively contribute during reviews and testing.

Understanding the connections of the underlying process network across teams and departments is crucial for Service Design. This is achieved via the following mechanisms:

  • Facilitated workshops
  • Stakeholder interviews (highly structured, semi-structured, or unstructured)
  • Periodic reviews of positive and negative feedback from stakeholders

Service Design – Deliverables

All the inputs from the above sections form the basis for the output of the Service Design, which is designed and developed as a formal document aligned with the organizational requirements. Inputs to a Traceability Matrix enable the matching of the requirements with acceptance criteria that align to the results from tests of the designed Service Design solution and are the indicators of a successful design.       

Service Design – Next Steps

As we have seen, Service Design provides the critical connection between different parts of an organization delivering and supporting a service. It builds the interworking network that conveys messages to the designated area, which then triggers tasks to enable and ensure successful high-quality deliveries on a repeatable basis.

Hence, can there be any doubt that Service Design does the same function for an organization as the human neural network does for the human body? 

How Cartesian Can Help

If you are looking to introduce or upgrade a product or service, the road to success starts with considering “How do we create a Service Design for this?”

Contact Cartesian for further information and guidance.