MePSS Webtool - Tool (Level 4)

Worksheet W22 - Interaction Table
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 Interaction table is a mediating design tool that should support a collaborative and progressive design process of the user interaction with the PSS and of the related organisation.

Putting into Practice Table of Contents

2.1 When and why should this tool be used?

The Interaction Table is a progressive tool carried on from one design phase to the next. It should evolve during the design process in level of granularity and amount of information from a general visualisation of the PSS performance to a detailed description of each PSS interaction steps, and it should become a sort of discussion ground on which to insert work-in-progress comments and advices (flags).

2.2 Who should use this tool?

The Interaction table is thought to be easily used by the different members of the project team, even if they don’t have specific design competencies.

Implementation Table of Contents

3.1 How should this tool be used?

The Interaction Table is thought to be used in three main steps that follow a general articulation of the design process in “Exploring Opportunities”, “PSS Idea Development” and PSS Development”, but, given the format, it can be applied differently depending on the situation and needs of the design process.

Exploring Opportunities

In this phase, the PSS tentative ideas are partially described visualising and briefly describing an ideal PSS interaction from the user point of view. This simple representation should visualise the core performance that the PSS is offering and give a hint of how the user could interact with the future PSS.

The Interaction Table can be simply sketched or elaborated filling Excel cells with images (photos or sketches) and brief descriptions as it is shown in the Figure 1.

Figure 1: Example of draft Interaction Table

PSS Idea Development

In this phase, the selected PSS idea is further developed in terms of core and added-value functionalities and in terms of potential user interaction modes with the PSS. Once that designers, considering the existing or imagined user profiles, have defined different interaction goals/benefits and the corresponding potential user interaction paths, the Interaction table can help the project team to:

  • Sketch or briefly describe, within the Excel cells, the main actions that user has to carry out to reach his/her service goal;
  • Clearly distinguish and describe the user and the system role within each user action (eventually underlining required back office and support activities);
  • Propose different interaction modes on how and with what kind of devices the single inter-action can be carried out (see example in Figure 2).

Figure 2: Example of detailed Interaction table. As it is evident, the lines of the Excel file are coloured in different ways in order to distinguish the main voices: system role, interaction description and visualisation, user role and the interaction mode.

PSS Development

Once the PSS idea has been accepted and the user interaction paths and modes selected, the PSS Development requires a deeper and more detailed description and visualisation of the different possible user interactions with the PSS in order to provide the required information for its implementation.

The interaction table supports this process as follows:

  • each PSS action is further exploded into interaction steps, that should be carried out in order to fulfil the objective of the single action; this is possible working on parallel Excell spreadsheets each representing a single PSS action;
  • the description of the system role is further detailed introducing other voices in the Interaction table: introducing the “line of visibility” is possible to distinguish front office tasks from the back office ones; adding the “internal interaction line” is possible to distinguish the back office tasks from support processes (carried out in a separate way from the PSS interaction process), while the “interaction lines” now separates the user tasks from the front office ones. This representation helps the project team to work in a parallel way on the PSS interface and on the PSS organisation issues;
  • the PSS interaction is further detailed considering all the components that should mediate/support and characterise the visible part of the PSS action: tools (support products or signs), interaction rules (the PSS rules that guide how the interaction should happen), required competencies (kind of competencies that both the user and the contact person should have in order to be able to interact), supplied information (necessary information, both for the user and for the staff, that should be available in the service place or provided during the interaction), context (characteristics of the environment that can influence or are connected to the course of action).

Figure 3: Example of final Interaction table.

As shown in the Figure 3 the descriptions of the interaction components which are related to a specific interacting person, are marked by an abbreviation like DA that stays for the Diet advisor or M that stays for the Food delivery Management, etc.

· Use of Excel comments as design flags.

As shown in the Figure 3 Excel gives the possibility to attach comments to the single cells (in the example it is a sustainability suggestion). This helps the design team to build a work-in-progress document where everyone can add suggestions or design issues. In particular the “flags” could be used to underline:

· Activity to be further developed in a separate way (like support processes);

· Interaction components just suggested but that should be designed (like tools, procedures, staff education, etc.);

· Possible conflicts, obligations, suggestions derived from existing conditions, sustainability evaluation or design team members’ specific competencies;

· Quality target to be reached during the PSS supply (time, behavioural, etc.)

3.2 Result

The result is a visualisation of different detailed user interaction paths with the PSS and of the related PSS organisation and processes.

3.3 Input needed/ data required/ data acquisition process

The elaboration of the Interaction Table asks for a clear idea of the PSS offering, a description of user profiles, an identification of potential use scenarios (use cases) and an understanding of system potentialities and limitations.

Software, templates and other support Table of Contents

4.1 Software

Based on the common and diffused software Excel.

4.2 Templates and other support

There is no specific format to be used.

Call on Resources Table of Contents

5.1 Personnel and time needed

The elaboration of the Interaction Table should involve all the design team. The time required to elaborate the interaction table obviously changes depending on the design phase in which it is used as the complexity and number of tables increase from a storyboard to a detailed and multi-levels representation. In particular the interaction table should be seen as a work in progress elaboration that follows the design process; it is therefore difficult to evaluate the exact timing of its application.

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 Sangiorgi, Ursula Tischner and Carlo Vezzoli.

The Interaction table tool is an elaboration of the well known service design tool called Blueprint (Shostack, 1984; 1985; 1987; 1992) that has been modified and partially integrated as follows:

- the tool is thought to be used from the beginning of the design process as a work-in-progress elaboration that grows in level of granularity;

- the “physical evidences” are integrated with other information that is necessary to structure the action system: tools (product or signs), interaction rules, required competences, provided information and context;

- the tool is built on a common software like Excell that enables the integration of “comments” that work like flags to attract the attention of the design team on specific design issues.