To help ensure the smooth running of a service network, the executive needs to assess each service regularly. This assessment can be conducted directly by the executive or delegated to a team of experts assembled for the task.
The primary purpose of the assessment is to understand how well the service meets the user needs, but it will also examine how the service is being managed and how well it has adopted the behaviours.
While the purpose of the assessment remains the same, the nature of the assessment will change as the service progresses through the lifecycle.
After a discovery phase
When a discovery phase comes to its conclusion, an assessment will need to be conducted to determine the service should move on to an alpha stage or not.
During the discovery, the service contract will have been tested with user research, and the service team will have a good idea about what will be needed to address the needs that have been identified. Additional or different user needs may have been discovered beyond the original concept and would need to be incorporated into the service contract.
There are three possible outcomes of a discovery phase:
- The service is not required
- More research is required, and a further discovery phase should be conducted
- Unaddressed needs have been identified, and the service should progress to an alpha stage.
The service is not required
A discovery could easily result in learning the service isn't a worthwhile pursuit.
This could be due to several reasons. For example, it may be that the needs are not pressing enough to tackle - they don't really exist, or it might be that the needs are too far outside of the scope for the organisation to address.
More research is required
Another possible outcome of a discovery phase is that the research resulted in a requirement for more research.
An incremental funding model will often result in small, focused efforts rather than all-encompassing ones, making this a common outcome. When this happens, the things discovered in the previous discovery should be used to shape another round of discovery.
Progress to alpha
When a service is ready to progress to alpha it has identified the needs it intends to address. This means the service contract has been clarified and updated where needed to reflect the latest understanding of the problem.
In order to progress to alpha, a budget will need to be allocated so that the service has appropriate funding. This should be a consideration of the discovery phase.
When budgeting for an alpha phase, it is important to consider that an alpha phase explores possible answers to the user needs, with the expectation that some of those answers will be unsuccessful.
In some organisations, it may be that the assessment is also the approval body for funding. In others, it may be that a separate case needs to be submitted to release money. From a process design standpoint, it is important that the time in between the assessment being conducted and the funding for alpha being made available should be as little as possible.
After an alpha phase
When the alpha phase ends, an assessment will need to be conducted to determine whether or not the service should proceed to the beta phase.
During the alpha phase, various tools and technologies will have been assessed to determine whether or not the needs articulated in the services' contract can be met.
There are three possible outcomes of an alpha phase:
- There are no suitable ways to meet the need
- There are multiple ways to meet the need but the best way has yet to be determined
- The best way to meet the need has been determined, and the service should continue to its beta phase.
More information about service assessments will be documented soon...