Aligning services with strategic programmes

In their third post on collaborative business service design (CBSD), ITGP authors Brian Johnson and Léon-Paul de Rouw discuss the role of the service design statement (SDS).

Brian Johnson is ITGP’s author of the month for June 2018.


The result of a CBSD session should be a design description encapsulated in the SDS that is, as far as is possible, unambiguous. You must include all the business information that you need identified to justify further investment and sign-off. This statement, which must involve all stakeholders, should be signed off by the senior responsible owner (SRO) or steering committee – whichever is ultimately responsible. The SDS will take you forward into the development of a service.

Service design thinking is about making sure that services are aligned with the strategic direction and strategic programmes of the enterprise. The outcome is the mission and should be the umbrella of all outputs that result from the different actions in the enterprise. So, the output of each service should add value to the strategic direction. You need to understand all constraints – political, economic, social, technical, legal – and their impact on the design of the delivery. It is important to bind all the requirements from the different layers of the enterprise in a holistic service offering. That is the essence of analysis using the CBSD canvas and summarising it in the SDS.

Contents of the service design statement

The SDS should be no more than 10 to 15 pages. A one-pager does not capture the different insights and choices made and will leave many stakeholders unsatisfied. A statement more than 15 pages will be just another report that needs to be summarised (and forgotten).

The SDS should as a minimum cover:

  • Service offering: Description and justification of the service offering (output of the desired service design, outcome of the desired service design and how output relates to outcome). You can explain the service offering based on the user story by explaining delivery, fit to policy and strategy, integration with the enterprise architecture and organisational and marketing objectives, and specific efficiency advantages.
  • Market and supplier:
    • How providers will be able to deliver the needed service offering.
    • Whether and to what extent the service offering complies with market standards and commercial off-the-shelf solutions or if it is to be ‘custom made’.
  • Risk management:
    • Insight into constraints and critical resources needed.
    • Insight into the risks and understanding of countermeasures involved in managing risk.

The best service or a service fit for purpose?

A stakeholder has some form of stake or influence on the value of the enterprise. The stakes that render and influence the service offering are what is of interest. Being aware of the sometimes conflicting needs and conditions set by stakeholders will help you to decide on requirements that shape decisions about services that are fit for purpose instead of the best service.

A key factor for success in the analysis is understanding the difference between ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘best’. In writing the SDS it will be important to consider how to present this to your audience. It could mean a paradigm shift in thinking or a completely different view of approaching the service offering than most of the stakeholders might expect. This would be a central theme that you need to repeat several times to relate all the different requirements. Also, the understanding of market readiness and suppliers that are mature enough to deliver what is needed will be essential in getting your message across.

The discussion between the best service and a service fit for purpose is not about better, or wrong, but it is about feasibility and acceptance.

Business value of the SDS

So, now you have your SDS and everybody is happy with the contents. You make sure that the SRO signs off on the chosen solution and you are ready to go forward in your business service lifecycle. It now specifies the essentials that need to be nailed down, and can be used as a guideline to focus the work. It directs the choices and activities that must be in place to build, implement, maintain and execute the service delivery.

In figure 1 some ideas are offered about the possible use for your SDS.

Uses of the Service Design Statement

Figure 1: Uses of the Service Design Statement


Collaborative Business Design and Collaborative Business Design: The Fundamentals are available to order from ITGP. Get 15% off when you order in June 2018 – enter discount code JUNE15 at the checkout.

To stay up to date with the latest news from ITGP, sign up for our newsletter.