Investment in service design: How much is enough?

September 8, 2023
Colin Preston

In a recent survey we commissioned to understand the current use and effectiveness of service design within UK organisations, one of the key areas of focus was based on how much investment and time is allocated to service design initiatives. 

Here, we'll break down some of the budget challenges and investment trends in service design today.

Understanding the investment landscape 

The survey findings reveal that a significant 39% of organisations allocate budgets of up to £50k for service design projects, with another 25% increasing this to £100k. While these investments are a good starting point for identifying problems, they often fall short of delivering comprehensive change programs.

The challenge of narrow focus 

One key issue with such budgets is their limited focus on discovering problems rather than implementing necessary changes. Service design frequently results in a roadmap for the future. Still, without adequate resources for implementation, the overall impact remains limited.

The urgency of long-term change

Interestingly, survey respondents expect to witness long-term change within a relatively short time—between 2 weeks and 3 months

However, this leaves little room for creating an environment ready to adapt to change initiatives. Organisations must recognise that meaningful service design implementation requires time and sustained effort.

Translating ideas into action

While businesses may generate numerous service design ideas and concepts, there's often a gap in translating them into actionable implementation plans. This aspect of service design, which involves facilitating the execution of ideas, demands more attention and investment.

Strategic shift required

Organisations must undergo a strategic shift to truly harness the benefits of service design. It's not just about identifying issues but also committing to the necessary resources, time, and expertise to drive meaningful change. 

This shift in mindset from problem identification to comprehensive solutions is crucial for maximising the impact of service design.

Investing in service design is not merely a financial decision; it's a strategic one. The survey findings underscore the importance of allocating sufficient budgets and resources to bridge the gap between identifying problems and implementing solutions. 

To thrive in an era where exceptional service is the norm, organisations must recognise that service design is an ongoing journey that requires long-term commitment and investment.

So, how much is enough?  

In product development, we recommend reserving 70% of your budget for the engineering and delivery phases. 30% of the budget is dedicated to the discovery and definition phases. 

This approach can also be taken for service design and change programmes, where a typical budget for discovery and definition would be £50,000-£100,000, followed by a further £150,000-£300,000 for implementation. 

. . .

You can read plenty more insights from our survey in Navigating Success in Service Design.

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