Archive for December, 2011

Service Design vs. Product Design – 5 Key Differences

December 19th, 2011 1 comment

Designing a product and designing services have many similarities but also key differences.  Both need clean VOC, clear definition of CTQs, stakeholder input and intelligent tollgates.  But the differences in the design process for the two are far greater.  And those differences are defined by the nature of products versus the nature of services.  So here are the top ten differences in their nature.

Service Design vs. Product Design - DifferencesHow do these attributes change the design process?  Well imagine how difficult it is to know if you have the right design if you can’t easily measure different attempts since repeatability and storability are issues.  And you really aren’t sure what you can measure since quality is defined by the customer’s experience of an outcome more than measuring the attributes of output.  And imagine what happens to multi-generational planning when you have to factor in how difficult it is to maintain your moat of defensibility for a new service without the right of a patent. Time and again basic elements of a design process are scraped or reinvented in an attempt to build a proxy for what is normally taught and practiced as good design principles.

In the end, you essentially have to nearly start over n building your design process for a service.  Basics are retained but new elements must be introduced or emphasized.  In a recent blog post, I point out how the basic principle of tollgates must be retained but mapping becomes the foundation to test, validate and repeat due to the absence of data.

Download service blueprinting

a short presentation on Service Blueprinting now ……..

At Qualtec, we’ve built a new design process or roadmap and established a set of tools to support each step of the way.  We will continue to write about this subject as we find there is a real dearth of information available.  But we also welcome your input and so if you’d like to discuss the differences and how to adapt to them, we invite you to contact us.

Service Design – Service Blueprinting and Tollgates add Much-needed Structure ….

December 7th, 2011 Comments off

Service Design | Services BlueprintingIn our design course we present an argument that over 70% of a product’s total cost is captured within its design process.  Based on that assumption, we go on to argue the most impactful activity a company can make to lower the cost of new products is to improve its design process. While we don’t cite similar statistics for a service, we believe the basic principals are the same.

Within Service Design, we believe there are two activities that we have observed service companies don’t aggressively pursue and which, if improved, could dramatically improve its cycle times, costs and perceived customer service quality.  Specifically, intensive mapping and tollgating are two basic design process and design principles that service companies would be well served to improve.

Tollgates should serve as business reviews and not technical reviews.  Tollgate business reviews should include cross-functional teams that are named based upon the business risk of the project.  Some new service offerings should include the CEO and others shouldn’t require such attention.  Tollgate reviews should include discussions about project risk, customer requirements, financial objectives and schedule/timeline.

Certainly, when constructing customer requirements for the service, there should be some form of VOC, such as a quantitative or qualitative survey, and conversion to CTQs using some form of decision matrix or tool such as a QFD.  But customer input shouldn’t stop after setting initial customer requirements.

Customers should be part of the tollgate process.  They should be treated as a stakeholder just like everyone that is part of the cross-functional team.  Of course, design incorporates a lot of proprietary information that is part of an entity’s business model and which a company certainly doesn’t want to disclose to its customers as it risks the very essence of their value proposition.  This is especially true for B2B service companies.

Download service design - Tollgate Process a short .ppt dealing with tollgate reviews in the service design process …

The key to incorporating the customer in the tollgate process and still maintaining a protective shield on your value proposition is to know when and on what to include the client.  A valuable tool to identify those points is a service blueprint that details all the “on stage” points of customer interaction.  These are the customer input points.  It is here that they form their perception of service quality.

Service companies still have very ad hoc service design processes.  Process mapping and tollgate reviews are two simple tools that can put some initial structure into service design.  Service Blueprinting, a form of process mapping, is a great tool to understand how to extend tollgate reviews to include customer feedback during design.  The stronger the design process, the shorter the lead times, lower the costs and higher the perceived customer experience.  If you would like to discuss any of these concepts or how to implement them, contact me.

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