New year, new goals
It’s the time of year where many businesses, ourselves included, are planning and strategising new initiatives and objectives for 2024.
With 2023’s genAI boom having one the biggest industry impact in a decade, we’ve seen a recent increase in enquiries about how new technologies could help organisations achieve efficiencies and hit their targets.
Knowing where to start, who to involve and how to effectively manage time can often be a barrier to getting started. Not only that, but balancing customer needs against the operational needs of staff, as well as aligning to overall strategic business goals, can be a complex challenge.
How to hit the ground running
Consultancies like Parallax can help organisations successfully achieve strategic transformation initiatives, by collaborating to understand the current state, future opportunities and potential investment benefits.
Our recommended approach involves firstly undertaking a Service Design project. This focuses on blueprinting a smooth, cohesive end-to-end experience that identifies people, processes and technology necessary to produce a high quality service that considers the needs of all stakeholders and is competitive in the market.
How we recommend starting
Building solid foundations requires getting insights from data and research, ensuring you have a thorough understanding of the wants and needs of all different personas involved in a service.
Whilst in the past this was an admin-heavy task, we’ve been leveraging AI to help streamline strategic analysis and help collect, organise and review research to quickly and effectively surface key insights to inform the next stage.
Learn by listening
We’ve found that a broad-brush approach to collecting user insights generally achieves the best results. For us, this includes a mix of techniques, including:
- Surveys - Modern tools like TypeForm make it incredibly simple to pull together a set of questions that can help swiftly gather useful feedback - again, we’re now using AI here to help us manage large quantities of unstructured feedback, allowing recipients to share thoughts and ideas rather than a focus on quantitative answers
- Interviews - As well as arranging to speak (ideally face-to-face) with customers, services like User Interviews make it incredibly easy to speak to non-customers with relevant industry experience
- Workshops - Facilitating collaboration through remote or in-person workshops help you get a thorough and contextual understanding of the current state of play, as well as surface interesting ideas
Taking the time to listen and understand people’s challenges and opinions not only surfaces core insights from the ground level up, but helps foster relationships with key stakeholders who will need to buy in to any proposed changes to the service delivery down the line.
Create a single source of truth
One thing we repeatedly encounter is individuals and teams believing they’re on the same page - until they get it down on paper. Particularly in complex global organisations, we tend to see a heavy reliance on key individuals’ knowledge of legacy processes and systems - and it’s often not centrally documented or more widely understood.
Taking the time to accurately visualise how a service is currently being delivered is a highly beneficial first step in achieving alignment across the organisation, especially for senior leaders who are often several steps removed from the day-to-day operations.
Capturing and documenting each step into a Service Blueprint means that key data can then be overlaid, e.g. time to deliver and critical pain points for customers and employees.
A background in User Experience really helps at this stage. By making documentation as visually engaging as possible, using emojis or stickers or images where appropriate, it can help make it more digestible, ultimately helping create broader awareness of business challenges and support easier identification of opportunities and potential quick wins.
Set a vision for the future
Once you’ve fully understood the as-is state of your service delivery, work can begin on crafting a vision of what excellence looks like.
Sometimes referred to as a “North Star”, this stage involves outlining a vision statement, as well as creating a second blueprint to communicate how the service should ideally be delivered in future. This documentation forms a shared understanding that can be reviewed, iterated on and signed-off by senior management.
Identify key priorities
Once the North Star has been agreed, the before and after service blueprints inform the process of identifying the priorities and resources required to turn the vision into a reality.
Understanding key pain points and inefficiencies with current delivery supports value-based prioritisation, i.e. helping you decide which areas to improve first.
New ideas can be validated with additional user research, wireframing and prototyping, as does starting small with proof-of-concept or pilot phases that utilise newer technologies like AI or IoT. Identifying quick wins opportunities that support scale, like constructing design systems, can also help at this stage.
Deliver value, frequently
Once you have a shared vision and key priorities, strategic resourcing analysis can identify the team skills and size needed to deliver the project, risks and dependencies, and the investment required.
Our preference is always for agile delivery - creating a roadmap that focuses on delivering value early and that can iteratively improve and adapt based on new information and requirements.
It’s also key to align any proposed rollout plan to your organisational structure. For example, in our experience, for larger teams, we recommend forming a dedicated Transformation Office - a small team of experts who can lead the programme of work, make critical decisions and engage with stakeholders across the business.
The Transformation Office must take the organisation on a journey, solve problems and focus on the priorities without losing sight of the vision. A well balanced team of cross-functional experts who are hands-on, adaptable and influential will help drive strategic success.
Service Design projects can ultimately help your business make more informed decisions, by aligning your teams around a shared vision to develop successful, sustainable services that drive long-term success.
We’ve set ourselves ambitious goals for 2024 - and our clients have too. If you’d like to chat to one of our experts about how Service Design could help you achieve yours, or have a business idea or challenge you’d like to explore, we’d love to help - get in touch today.