Service Process Planning

The following are the strategic decision and design elements must be considered in the service process planning.

  1. Basic technological decision
  2. Conversion/ Market decision
  3. Specific equipment decision
  4. Process flow decision
    1. Blue Prints
    2. Flowchart
    3. Front and Back office
    4. Layouts
    5. Bench marks
  5. People decision

1. Basic Technological Decision

In some, technology exists but not only in customerised form. So the question arises :whether the technology available can be developed to provide the raw material, process and equipment to deliver the service? For example , at one time it was possible to design printed electronic circuits on small chips, but the technology and specific equipment required to produce the chips are beyond the state of act.

In the same way telephone was invented in 1876, but the technology came into use after 15 years from the invention of telephone dial.

2. Conversion/ Market Decision

The decision on conversion process is complex as it depends upon the technology and market factors, as well as economic conditions.  There are many alternative processes and material that will satisfy the design specification. When each person or service supplying a service is dedicated to providing that particular service efficiency is achieved. However effectiveness is achieved with the flexibility in the conversion process. In other words the broadest range off service is to be provided by the service provider.

3. Specific Equipment Decision

Technology section is an important decision for any service provider. It should fully support the demand of the product or services as it creates the demand and the requirements for all other parts of the operating system.

It is necessary for a manager to be able to ‘visualise’ the physical process taking place in order to make intelligent decision about the equipment and process technology.

Types of basic conversion system

The selection of equipment is dependent upon the type of conversion systems that is chosen.

  1. Fixed position
  2. Process based and
  3. Product or Service based

Fixed position conversion is often characteristic of custom, high quality personal service .Example: Beauty treatment, landscaping etc. Higher education is a good example of process based conversion or batch production in services. Students move in batches from class to class. The conversion system is said to be service based if the equipment required to serve a customer is arranged in a sequence according to the steps in the service process

4. Process Flow Decision

It is related to conversion/materials decision and specific equipment decision. The process flow decision is developed on the basis of flow process charts, blue prints, and layouts and benchmarking.

(a) Service Blue Print:

A service blue print is a flowchart of the service process. It is a picture of a service system. It conveys the service concept by showing the service at an overview level. It shows how each job or department functions in relation to the service as a whole.

In preparing a service blue print the following important steps are taken:

  • Identify the activates involved in developing the service and prevent them in a diagrammatic form.
  • Identify the failure points. Develop a system and procedure to reduce the likelihood of their occurring in the first instance.
  • Set standards for measuring the performance.
  • Analyze the profitability of the service delivered.

The blueprinting exercise also gives the managers the opportunity to identify the potential point of failure and design “foolproof” procedure so that they may not occur again.

Thus, a blue print is a precise definition of the service delivery system that allows the management to test the service concept before final commitments are made. By identifying potential points of failure and highlighting opportunities to enhance customer’s perception of the service, the blue print facilitates problem solving and creative thinking.

Uses of Service Blue Prints:

Managers employ the concept of blue prints to assist in the decision making activities associated with strategy setting, allocation of resources, integration of service functions and overall evaluation of performance. Blue Prints are used by marketing managers in developing advertising and sales promotion campaigns. Details service blue prints are useful to marketing and communication people.

The marketing managers can employ them in consumer research. They can also use them as a starting point for development of consumer material in order to convey invisible actions.

When it is time to shift the new services from R & D into routine operation, the marketing manager performing an R & D function can use detailed blue prints in order to communicate operational details. Detailed service blue prints can be used by human resources managers in preparing job description, selection criteria, and performance appraisal system and compensation schemes.

(b) Service Mapping/Flow Charting:

Flowcharting can be applied to any type of service when a management needs to gain a better understanding of how the service is created and delivered. Its is also known as service mapping when portraying an existing situation and service blueprinting, when planning a new or revised process and prescribing how it ought to function.

Developing a flow chart begins by identifying each interaction that a particular type of customer has while using a specific service. Managers should distinguish between the core products and supplementary elements.

The next stage is to pull at these interactions linearly into the sequence in which they occur. The service delivery process is like a river, some activities take upstream and others downstream.

It is seen that flowcharting provides a means for managers to gain understanding of the underlying services processes and is the first step necessary in exercising control over such procedures.

(c) Front and Back Office:

The front office is that part of the system which is directly experienced and visible to the customer. This is the place where the actual service is performed.

That part of the system from which the office is excluded is the back office. E.g. Kitchen in a restaurant. It is the manufacturing side of the service that is not visible to the customer. There are certain services like banks where the back office is visible to the customer.

(d) Layouts:

The layouts of a service organization can be process layout, Product layout or Group layout. In process layout the resource are arranged according to the particulars state in the process that is to be applied to the customer. It allows the servers to specialize at particular tasks.

In product layout the requirements of specific group of customers are identified and only than the resources that resources are sequentially set-up so that the customers flow through the system and move from one system to another until the service is complete. E.g. Car servicing.

(e) Benchmarking:

Benchmarking is defined as measuring the performance of a business against that of the strongest competition in order to establish “best practice”. It can be applied at three levels.

  • Internal Benchmarking can be carried out on the large organization by way of comparisons between operations units. Thus, a financial institution might bench mark across branches, different hospitals under the same health authority, different colleges under the same education authority etc.
  • At the second level competitive Benchmarking can be used. Competitive Benchmarking is used where comparisons are made directly with the competitive organizations. Here the owner or the director can pose as a customer and directly participate in the process. However this is done in an informal way. A comparative impression is gained of the service without examining the different facets.
  • The third approach is functional or generic Benchmarking. It compares specific functions such as distribution and after sales service. In this the advantage is that the information is easier to obtain than when competitors.

In order to measure the performance care has to be taken in selecting the dimensions and scales to be used. This has been seen in education where, on occasions there has been focus on output measure i.e. the number of external examination passes. The concept of value addition can introduce in this situation examining the difference between output and input.

The Benchmarking process is shown in the figure below:

Service Process Planning - Benchmarking Process

5. People Decision

The decision regarding people means determining the number of people, their skills, and labor cost. Many times people decision are made on the assumption that people may be hired any way. A firm may have sophisticated technology but it is the people who manage them and therefore in people decision knowledgeable and motivated workforce cannot be overlooked.

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