Using business service design

In their fourth post, Brian Johnson and Léon-Paul de Rouw discuss setting up the collaborative business service design (CBSD) process.

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


The service design programme manager will develop and set up the CBSD process while CBSD practitioners will be available to support and guide participants.

First things first: design your CBSD session. Your stakeholder groups will certainly include IT professionals.

Appoint a business service coordinator (BSC), if that role has not already been created. This should be someone who is either a senior responsible owner (SRO) or proxy for the programme’s SRO.


Four phases of CBSD

A CBSD session generally comprises four phases: intake, preparation, analysis and synthesis, and conclusion. In table 1 the different phases are explained. Depending on the complexity of the service design, you will find that some of the phases take longer than others to complete or more stakeholders need to participate. It also depends on you as the principal practitioner, your experience and circumstances such as existing constraints. A constraint may be money (or lack of it), existing capabilities and perhaps even ambition.

Just to be clear, these activities should precede any form of developments irrespective of who throws in the ‘Agile’ word. Major investments in IT-driven services require thought; Agile methods come along later and help to achieve results that can be properly assessed.

Table 1: Applying the CBSD

PhasesIntakePreparationAnalysis and synthesisConclusion
Goal Intake

Determination whether CBSD can assist
Initial meetings
Using CBSD to discover the desired service designAccepted design description and design repository and clearance for next step
ActivitiesSetting outcome Intake and request
Selecting and inviting stakeholders
Budget plan
Budget available
Insight into output and outcome in relation to business strategy
Insight into coherent service
Insight into requirements
Insight into roadmap
Insight into risks and compliancy
Insight into needed agreement
Service description
Service design document
Service design repository
Action responsible service ownerExplaining needed outcome in relation to business strategy
Agreeing on budget to design service
NoneBeing available for additional information or communication of new, relevant informationAcceptance and sign-off
Action project manager for service designSetting up service design programmeBringing all stakeholders togetherFinal responsibility that design is madeMaking the delivery
Lessons to be learned


Think before you act

Before you start going through these phases, think about:

  • What you want to achieve using CBSD;
  • Getting the right stakeholders (or their representatives) involved;
  • Doing it yourself or using CBSD practitioners;
  • Making sure your own people are participants;
  • Using the right tools to explore information and possibilities, e.g. stakeholder maps, service safari, shadowing, customer journey maps, contextual interviews, the five ‘whys’, cultural probes;
  • Ensuring everyone involved in the exercise understands the difference between outputs and outcomes;
  • Identifying a process supervisor/workshop leader/facilitator;
  • Matching the format of meetings/techniques to the goal of the session;
  • The special role of the BSC;
  • Ensuring you write everything down; and
  • Getaway days/offsite meetings.

There are many ways to organise your programme. It is up to you to decide, based on the character of the programme and goals at hand, how to develop your own method.

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.

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