Business rules type defining how to navigate your product or service

NavigateIf you have been following this series of posts on business rules and been applying some of the tips into practice, then by now you would have defined your team and identified what you need to acquire to guarantee your product’s or service’s success. At this point, it is time to think about designing your product or service. And as you do it, you will discover that this is not only about the structure you define for your product or service, but you also need to define how you as a producer and on the other hand the customer are going to navigate your product or service during its creation/production, launch and use.

I have probably puzzled you with this statement. Here are some clues to solve this riddle.

In the post about various business rules types, I illustrated this issue briefly on the example of switching on a vacuum cleaner. The customer being used to how his old vacuum cleaner worked, would try to use it in the same way. So it is your obligation to make your customer aware of how to start using your innovative product and what to do if something is amiss.

Let me illustrate this on a service example. If you are a hairdresser, you will have a different view and the way how your start “using” your shop than your customer. When you enter your shop in the morning, you start by switching off the alarm, switching on the lights and coffee-maker (at least this is what I would do as one of the very first steps, if I would own that shop), then you go to the back of the shop, leave your purse and coat there, wash your hands and start preparing your business for opening. When a customer comes into your hair-dressing shop, she enters it without pulling out any keys, takes her coat off and hangs it on the coat-rack, then finally takes a seat on a sofa or a chair to wait for her turn. Then later when you call her to take a seat on chair in front of a mirror, and you would wheel her chair to a sink to wash her hair or pull the mobile sink to her.

“Wait a minute,” your customer raises her hand to stop my flow in this example. “What do I have to do before I have my hair cut? Shall I make an appointment? If yes, what number shall I call, or can I make an appointment on-line?”

“No, no,” you say. “I work without appointments. You simply come and wait, if I am busy with other customers. But I don’t expect long waiting times.” Then you turn to me and say, “I am not going to have a sink. And neither wash customer’s hair. I am creating one of those express hairdresser shops, where you are served quickly and qualitatively.” You wait a little for me to assess.

I nod. “Ah, OK. Actually, I usually go to one of those.”

You, relieved as if you would think that people might judge for having this in mind, say, “So I just will use a spray bottle with water to wet the hair before cutting.”

After all this brainstorming and seeing your shop from both points of view – yours and that of the customer – you realize that it is much more to it, than just structuring your shop into the front, middle, and back. You might want to think of it functionally, such as office, entrance, waiting, hair-cutting, and cash-register areas. And you need to think how you your customer accesses and uses different areas.

For example, you might not often take a seat on the sofa you’ve purchased for your customers to sit on, while waiting for their turn. Unless of courses you join one or a group of them for a chat and a cup of coffee. Your most frequent use of it will be probably confined to cleaning/dusting it. So, you’ll be its maintainer.

Your customer on the other hand will never enter your office at the back of the shop, unless she is a member of your family or a close friend. So her usual relation to your office would be a mere glance at the opened door and a second of wondering how it might look inside.

I will call again S1000D® (International specification for technical publications) for help. Apart from offering how to define a breakdown (or in other words structure) of a product, it has two very useful terms, which can serve you as tools while designing your product or service.

These are zones and access points.

Their definition in the Specification (S1000D, Issue 4.1, Chapter 3.4, Para 1), might seem a little sophisticated:

When indicating the location of the Product equipments, assemblies, access doors and panels, ports, etc within data modules and identifying locations for maintenance planning, the Product is divided into areas and sub-areas known as zones.”

To put this in a simpler and more general wording, we can say the zones provide you with another method to structure your product or service in addition to the one you thought of in the first place. So, if you structured your hairdresser-s’ shop functionally into office, cutting, waiting, coffee-machine and other areas, then your zones might be front, middle and back, as well as right, middle and left sides of the shop.

Access points are the points, where you or your customer access the product during its launch or use. These will differ for you and the customer. For example, you and your customer will stay at the different sides of a cash register. She will use the card reader to pay, and you will operate the cash register.

So when planning and designing your product or service, find at least two different ways to structure it: physically and functionally, both from your and your customer’s points of views. Then define the access points for the launch, maintenance, use, trouble shooting, and other scenarios you can think of for the operation of your product or service.

And if you haven’t noticed it yet, let me point out one of the multiple loops in the business rules definition process, which quietly emerged while we discussed your product’s and service’s design. When you structure your product and decide on the best ways to navigate it, you will identify further items or services, as well as further team-players needed to be acquired/employed in addition to those you identified already for your product or service to function.


This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2015-2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels