MePSS Webtool - Tool (Level 4)

Worksheet W21 - System Map
Table of Contents
1. Objective
2. Putting into Practice
3. Implementation
4. Software, templates and other support
5. Call on Resources
6. Literature, examples and background information

Objective Table of Contents

The system map tool is a codified and progressive representation of the system of actors providing a PSS.

· It's a codified system in the sense that it's a "technical drawing" of the system of actors allowing to represent alternative PSS in a reproducible and comparable way. It consists in a fixed format of representation (a map), an open library of graphic elements (icons, pictograms, arrows...) and a set of rules (layout, syntax...) to be used in order to represent the system of actors;

· It is progressive in the sense that it is a "formalisation-in-progress" of the solution actors map giving a more and more accurate picture of the project along its development. It specifies progressively detailed formats at each steps of the methodology (Exploring Opportunities; PSS Idea Development, PSS development).

Putting into Practice Table of Contents

2.1 When and why should this tool be used?

The System Map is a progressive representation of the system of actors of the PSS. It is therefore used in each phase of the methodology. In the Strategic Analysis phase, it is used to map the current system, whereas in the next phases it is used to represent the development of the new PSS system.

2.2 Who should use this tool?

This tool is designed to be used by anybody in the design team as it doesn’t require neither any kind of graphical skills nor particular software but just the full library of prefabricated icons.

Implementation Table of Contents

3.1 How should this tool be used?

1 – Introduction to the functioning of the tool

The tool is based on Powerpoint template as a simple and diffused software allowing elaboration from all participants to the project, easy exchange, modification and presentation at each stage of the development.

The description of the tool will first present the format, the library of graphic elements and the set of rules to be used to draw system maps. A second part will present the progressive elaboration of the map at each stage of the methodology.

2 – Conventions on the format of the System Map

A system map is based on one Powerpoint slide (Figure 1).

The limit of the slide is by convention the boundaries of the PSS.

A rectangle drawn on the slide shows the PSS platform boundaries. Core actors performing the PSS are situated inside; outside the all PSS life cycle is represented (upstream/left; downstream/right) such as secondary stakeholders (top and down) providing PSS options or contributing as subcontractors.

Figure 1: layout of system and platform boundaries.

Each actor is represented by one icon made of three elements:

· The structure representing the type of institution the actor (Figure 2 and Figure 3);

· A characterisation defining the actor’s activity output (producing food, transporting goods, delivering to local users…) (Figure 4);

· A slogan qualifying the actor activity / intentions (bio food provider, logistic provider, local delivery shop (Figure 5);

· The resulting icon composed of standardised elements is specific to the actor and easy to differentiate on the map (Figure 5).

Figure 2: the structure shows the nature of the institution (company, shop, household…)

Figure 3: two dimensions of the structure make the differentiation between main and secondary actors.

Figure 4: a graphic library contains pictograms used to characterise actors activity output;

Figure 5: construction process of actors icons based on a structure + a characterisation + slogan.

The nature of the flows between the different actors is marked by different arrows (Figure 6):

  • Plain stroke showing material flows;
  • Square fine dashed strokes showing informational flows;
  • Round middle dashed strokes showing financial flows.

One way and both ways flows are distinguished as well as core service performance flows (dark grey) and secondary service performance (light grey).

Figure 6: material, informational and financial flows are defined.

Each system map is made of actor’s icons and flows arrows.

The sequence of flows of core PSS performance is detailed (starting from a “start” point using dark grey arrows with numerated captions) whereas PSS option flows are only mentioned (light grey arrows with non sequential captions) (Figure 7).

In general only consistent flows are mentioned to keep legibility of the map.

Figure 7: the construction of the map distinguishes core PSS performance flows from PSS options flows.

3 – Completion of the System Map from one phase to the next

System maps evolves in details and precision from the tentative PSS idea till the development of the PSS. The three stages of the modular structure are illustrated there:

· Exploring Opportunities phase: Formalisation of the tentative PSS idea emerging form the scenario workshop (

· Figure 8);

· PSS Idea Development phase: Choice of a PSS idea and definition of the PSS organisation (

· Figure 9);

· PSS Development phase: Design of the detailed organisation of actors and flows among them (

· Figure 10).

Figure 8: in the scenario generation phase, the stakeholders organisation is described for each tentative PSS idea. At this stage the System Map is only drafted. It shows the core performance characterising the tentative idea. In order to facilitate the differentiation of the maps relating to the many tentative ideas generated in the scenario building workshop, it contains also a remainder of the offering visualisation.

Figure 9: in the PSS idea module, one idea emerges from the discussion of the scenario workshop outputs. The SystemMap precises the PSS core performance and the main stakeholders involved. Secondary stakeholders are also identified and flows are completed for material, informational and financial transactions.

Figure 10: in the development module, parts of the SystemMap may be detailed in order to precise actual actors and flows where it’s necessary. In the example above, the Food Atelier is a key place for the performance of the PSS. Therefore, the System Map shows a zoom in the shop in order to detail the sub-elements constituting these actors and show their involvement according to the different PSS options. In this case, the System Map shows the functional organisation of the Food Atelier space and may be an input for the interior design of the place.

3.2 Result

The System Map is completed from one phase to the next. At first, the System Map is relatively simple, and it becomes more and more detailed and complex as one moves along the phases of the methodology, as it reflects the refining of the PSS.

Several System Maps can be generated, corresponding to the different scenarios considered in the Exploring Opportunities phase.

In the following, PSS idea development and PSS development phases, different System Maps may be used to support the strategic conversation between actors and the progressive refinement of the PSS.

3.3 Input needed/ data required/ data acquisition process

The input to the System Map will be the design work achieved either during the brainstorming sessions or during the ‘homework’ performed at each phase, the description of stakeholders organisation and flows between them.

Software, templates and other support Table of Contents

4.1 Software

This tool requires the use of standardised icons built under Powerpoint.

4.2 Templates and other support

A basic template (a shown in the previous figures 1 to 7 ) facilitate the construction of the System Maps in a systematic and uniform way among all the project team.

Call on Resources Table of Contents

5.1 Personnel and time needed

This tool requires approximately half an hour per System Map and about 2/3 hours of work at each phase of the methodology.

Literature, examples and background information Table of Contents

6.1 Methodological References

Excerpt from “Final version of the design PSS methodology and toolkit for industry”, by François Jegou, Elena Pacenti, Daniela Sangorgi, Ursula Tischner and Carlo Vezzoli.

Jégou F. Manzini E. Meroni A. "Desing Plan, a design toolbox to facilitate solution oriented partnership" in "Solution oriented partnership, How to design industrialized sustainable solutions" edited by E. Manzini, L. Collina, S. Evans, Cranfield University, 2004

ISBN 1861 94 10 64