The MEPSS vocabulary explained.

Added Value

The amount of money a company receives in selling a product or service subtracting costs of material input.


Attitudes, interests, opinions framework (UK)


Business to Business


Business to Consumers


Carbon dioxide


Criteria are set at the start of the project and progress is judged against them in order to make the go/no-go and prioritization decisions.

Decision node

A decision node links the phases in the MEPSS mode. It serves as a link with the management (board) of the organisation. At the decision node the ‘bottom-up’ results of the PSS innovation phase will meet the ‘top-down’ views of the management board. This will bring additional dynamic to the innovation cycle.

Decision nodes deal with three quality issues: quality of execution; business rationale; and the quality of the action plan.

Decision node meeting

Meeting between management (board) and PSS project leader (often accompanied by team members). At a decision node meeting the PSS project team will present and discuss their progress and choices made. At the end of the decision node meeting, the management (board) will take a go / no-go decision for continuation to the next phase and make specific suggestions to guide the execution of the project.


or unlinking

Achieving economic growth without an increase in environmental pressure.


Outputs of the phases, steps or processes. Inputs into the decision node review


Changing a user’s need fulfilment in such a way that either the overall material flows, or the energy flow of that fulfilment, decreases significantly.


Design practice in which environmental issues are a key decision factor in the design process.


Quantitative indicators of eco-efficient performance (e.g. of the company’s activities or of the product life-cycle)


Graphical representation of environmental pressure in an interconnected group of activities together fulfilling a need.


Plot of the environmental load versus the profit made.


Eco-Management and Audit Scheme


Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles

Factor 10

The Factor 10 concept has been developed and popularised to a great extent by Prof. Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek and Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker. Prof. Schmidt -Bleek is the president of the Factor 10 Institute. In their 'Factor 10 Manifesto' [Schmidt-Bleek 2000], the concept is defined as follows:

"The goal to dematerialise the economies of the industrialised countries tenfold on the average within 30 to 50 years, starting 1995. The goal to increase their resource productivity tenfold on the average during this time period."

The main objectives of the Factor 10 concept are to reach:

  • Greater social justice;
  • Environmental balance;
  • Sustainability;
  • Economical justice.

Achieving a factor 10 increase in resource efficiency is therefore a means to an end: the goal to achieve a better division of wealth, and at the same time decreasing the burden our economies put on the environment.

Functional unit

or unit function fulfilment

A standardised quantity of measurable function fulfilled by both PS system and reference system. A proper choice of the functional unit enables fair comparison between different design solutions. Functional unit will be a key word during the environmental and economical analyses of PS systems. In case of PS systems it may not always be possible to find a reference system with the exact similar functional unit. If we are to compare two products, we must be sure that the products are really comparable and have a comparable performance.


Government to Consumers


Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points


Information and Communication Technology

Interaction design

A discipline coming from an evolution of the concept of advanced artefact “interface design”, where the idea of interface as an object, a surface to be modelled, is replaced with the idea of the interface as an interactive event. “The fundamental content of interface design is the interaction organisation around the activity, not around the machine”, as the barycentre of interface design is the temporal dimension; a main consequence of this focus on interaction is that the design activity is also seen, using the show language, as a sort of mis-en-scène, and of choreography (script of scenic gestures).

Anceschi G. (a cura di), Il progetto delle interfacce. Oggetti colloquiali e protesi virtuali, Domus Academy, Milano, 1992.

Helander, Martin (a cura di), Handbook of Human Computer Interaction, Elsevier Science Publishers B. V., Amsterdam, 1988

Mantovani G., La qualità dell’interazione uomo-computer, Ed. Il Mulino, 1991, Milano

Interaction Table

Tables explaining the interactions needed for implementing the PSS offer - describing each PSS action in terms of interaction steps and PSS components:


Integrated Product Policy


International Organisation for Standardisation

Kano model

Developed in the 80’s by Professor Noriaki Kano, the Kano model for customer satisfaction classifies attributes of a market offer based on how the offer is perceived by customers and their effects on customer satisfaction. These classifications are useful for guiding design decisions in that they indicate when good is good enough and when more is better.


Environmental Life Cycle Assessment


Life Cycle Costing


Environmental Life Cycle Inventory

Life Cycle Design

Life Cycle Design is a system-oriented approach for designing more ecologically and economically sustainable product systems, integrating environmental concerns with other classical factors in product development, such as functionality, profitability, safety, reliability, ergonomics, technical feasibility and aesthetics.


Marketing is the analysis, organisation, planning and control of means, policy and activities of an organisation that are aimed at customers with the goal the realisation or fulfilment of the needs and desires of a selected group of customers with the objective to achieve the aspirations/objectives of the organisation.


Production of mass goods, on consumer’s wishes


‘Methodology for Product Service Systems’, project co-financed under the Growth programme of the European Commission, in which a toolkit for industry for the design, development, implementation and assessment of PSS is developed.

MEPSS started November 2001 and terminate in November 2004, focusing on the development of an innovation model for PSS. The project was organised in three interconnected working groups that worked on the following questions:

  • What determines success/failure of PSS in terms of customer acceptance and cultural aspects?
  • How can we assess and evaluate the lifecycle and macro effects of PSS in terms of environmental, economic, and social sustainability?
  • How can industry design and implement a PSS in a systematic and efficient way?

Mind Map

A Mind Map is a powerful technique that supports visual thinking. A number of highly effective Mind Mapping software tools are available on the market (both free versions such as FreeMind® and commercial packages such as MindManager®, MindMapper® or ConceptDraw®)


Description based upon "The factor 10 / MIPS concept - Bridging ecological, economic and social dimensions with sustainability indicators" by F. Schmidt-Bleek.

The MIPS concept (Material Input per Service-unit) has been developed as a consequence of the need for sustainability indicators. MIPS is an instrument that aims to estimate the ecological stress potential of goods and services from cradle to grave. With MIPS, the concept of sustainability can be operationalised on economic micro- and meso level. MIPS is computed in material input per total unit of service delivered by the product over its entire useful life span (Resource extraction, manufacturing, transport, packaging, operating, re-use, re-cycling, and re-manufacturing are accounted for, and so is the final waste disposal). The total MI that is carried by a finished product is called its ecological rucksack. The MIPS includes material along with energy inputs by counting the material fluxes associated with energy inputs. For electricity or solar heat inputs, the system-wide material intensity per unit energy input is taken as MI value.

Monte Carlo Simulation

Computer simulation with a built-in random process, allowing to see the probabilities of different alternatives


Non-Governmental Organisation (stakelholder)


World Commission on Environment and Development

Offering Diagram

Diagram that describe the key functionalities of the product service system offered in the market place –including PSS basic, added value and sub-functionalities;


Results of the phase, step, process, or decision node review. Especially the decision node meetings must have clearly articulated outputs including: a decision (go/hold/go-back/stop) and a path forward, including approved project plan, date and deliverables for the decision node meeting of the next phase.


At the highest level, the MEPSS model consists of phases. The MEPSS phase model will allow flexible allocation of resources and optimisation of the business opportunity/risk ratio. Phase in the MEPSS model are: 1. strategic analysis; 2. exploring opportunities; 3. PSS idea development; 4: PSS development; 5. Launching the PSS.


Project Initiation Document – important document in project management providing clear objectives and project plan (Prince2)


‘Product Service System Information Network’. Networking project financed under the Growth programme of the European Commission, in which various projects working on PSS co-operate and share information.


Process-based approach for project management providing an easily tailored and scaleable method for the management of all types of projects.


Processes are the key elements for the realisation of a MEPSS-step. Processes are action oriented descriptions of the activities that need to be executed.


A tangible commodity, manufactured to be sold in large quantities. It is capable of falling onto your toes and of fulfilling a user’s need.

Product-Service Cross

The lifecycle stage of a product where a service is provided

Product-service system

A marketable set of products and services capable of jointly fulfilling a user’s needs, provided by either a single company or a strategic alliance of companies.

Product substituting service

A service that enables need-fulfilment in such way that it brings a significant decrease in the materials component needed for the fulfilment.

Profit pool

Graphical representation of profits in an interconnected group of activities that together fulfil a need

Property Rights Analysis

Instrument for making an inventory of the (transfer of) property rights in the System and the inefficiencies connected to the traditional business model


Product-service system

Screening LCA

First simple LCA exercise learning to understand the key environmental impacts of the life-cycle of a PSS.

PSS Champion

An expert in product-service system innovation. He/she is either a strong innovation expert of the company or an external consultant. Preferably this PSS expert brings in prior experience in the implementation of the MEPSS methodology.


The ratio between the amount of product and service, either in terms of function fulfilment or economic value


Return On Investment or Return On Assets.

Scenario Building

Given a certain system, scenario building is a tool to generate eventual future systems. In the practice of strategic design, scenario building is aimed to generate visions of potential future systems of products and services together with their supportive social, technological and business strategies. Within system innovation, scenario building is a planning tool, which is able to go over the individual actor viewpoint, and to produce a common language that makes the communication between all the stakeholders easier. The anticipation of future systems requires systematic analysis and creativity, insight and intuition. Regarding this, scenario building enables an organisation to learn, adapt, and enrich the ongoing decision-making processes while bringing together a deeper understanding of the external environment with the organisation’s goal and competence.

SDO toolkit

Sustainability Design-Orienting toolkit, including checklists, idea generation tables (with guidelines) and radar diagrams on environmental, socio-ethical and economic dimensions.


An activity (work) done for others with an economic value and often done on a commercial basis. In this project, we include work done by human beings as well as by automated systems.

Service interface

The service interface is the “area, ambit, zone in which the interactions between the service provider and the users take place”; it is made up of service elements, seen and experienced by customers: physical and sensorial environment, functional tools like machines or objects, functional and symbolic information, employee behaviour and appearances. The service interface is the only permanent means through which the user can identify the service identity and functionality, understand how it works and what kinds of actions are possible. Because of the intangibility of services, the interface should be at the same time a good communication, an identity vehicle and a good support for action at the same time.The service interface is also seen as a sort of scene, “predisposition for a series of possible performances” because of the temporal dimension and of the extreme variability of service performance. The consequence is that service interface design implies also the “story” or the “interaction plot” between the user and the overall delivery system, which is not linear but open to different ends.

(Anceschi G. (a cura di), Il progetto delle interfacce. Oggetti colloquiali e protesi virtuali, Domus Academy, Milano, 1992. Pacenti E., La progettazione dei servizi tra qualità ambientale e qualità sociale, tesi di dottorato di ricerca in Disegno Industriale, X ciclo, Aprile 1995 – Ottobre 1998.)


Production chain for services.


Small and Medium sized Enterprises.

Stakeholder System Maps

Maps that describe all actors in the value chain with their interdependencies, roles and stakes


Steps are the sequential building blocks of the MEPSS phases. They provide a chronological description of the deliverables that need to be realised in a MEPSS-phase.

Strategic design

Strategic design is a design activity concerning the product system, i.e. the integrated body of products, services and communication with which a company presents itself to the market and sets itself in society; giving form to its strategy.

Within a strategic design approach a dialogue is established between management (of the company) and designers, which leads to two forms of integration:

  • integration of products, services and communication in a single unit (the product system),
  • and integration of the products system in the definition and articulation of the company’s strategy.

This creative dialogue is what is intended as strategic design.

By considering both market and society as areas in which the activity of a company takes place, the role of Strategic design can focus on four goals (see “strategic Design”, E. Manzini, HiCS WP1):

  1. strategic positioning of a company or of a partnership;
  2. business reconfiguration of a company or of a partnership;
  3. building of a network of partners including stakeholders both from the production and consumer side;
  4. envisioning of strategic orientation.

1) Keeley, L., 1998, “Seeking the Secret Keys”, in Design Management Journal, summer, 24-28

2) Kao, J. (eds by), 1996, The New Business of Design, Alworth Press, New York

3) Doblin Group, 1996, “Breakthroughs”, in Design Quarterly, n° 167

Sustainable development

“A development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” (Source: Our Common Future, Brundtland Commission, World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). It is a process leading to the goal or result in sustainability. It is not a static situation but a state of dynamic equilibrium between human and natural systems. The document in which this principle is written down is the ‘Agenda 21’, the blueprint for sustainable development where tasks for the fields of production, consumption and policy, i.e. the society as a whole, are formulated and possible steps are suggested. There are six principles that describe how a sustainable community should interact with other communities and nature:

1. Environmental protection: Protection of the resources and life support systems needed for continuance of human well-being and all life

2. Development: Improving ‘quality of life’ of which economic development is part but not the sole objective

3. Futurity: Considering the interests of future generations in what we leave behind

4. Equity: Sustainability will not work if the world's resources are unfairly distributed or if the poor pay a disproportionate part of the costs of the transition to sustainability (as everyone has a part to play)

5. Diversity: Diverse environmental, social and economic systems are generally more robust and less vulnerable to irreversible or catastrophic damage. It also allows individuals to chose more sustainable options

6. Participation: Sustainability cannot be imposed but requires the support and involvement of all sections of the community and all communities. This requires ensuring opportunities for participation in decision-making.

Sustainable development is a process with the following features:

  • Conservation of resources
  • Respect for all stakeholders’ viewpoints
  • Following the precautionary principle
  • Encouraging subsidiarity: Decision-making at the lowest practicable level
  • Promoting personal freedom: Meeting needs without harming the environment or people
  • Addressing aesthetics: Protecting and creating places and objects of beauty.

Brundtland Commission, World Commission on Environment and Development, (1987): Our Common Future

United Nations (1992) ‘Agenda 21: The Earth Summit Strategy to save our Planet’, Document E. 92-38352

Sustainability Radar Diagram

Diagram showing sustainability (environmental, socio-ethical and economic) design priorities for a given reference system and the improvements of scenarios, PSS ideas and developed PSS.

Sustainability guidelines

Guidelines are used in Idea generation Tables to facilitate brainstorming session on environmental, socio-ethical and economic dimension of sustainability. They are prioritised in relation to the reference system.

Sustainability Roadmapping

Sustainability Roadmapping provides a methodology to acquire insight in the coherence of technology development and future applications, aiming to gain for People, Planet and Profit (the triple bottom line of sustainability). When applying sustainability roadmapping, strategic goals are translated into operational research and development efforts. Sustainability roadmapping is based on acquiring a vision on the future and the development of a (business) strategy.

SWOT analysis

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis


(1) Interacting collection(s) of organisations, personnel, equipment and value generation transactions to accomplish a set of specific functions.

(2) An organised assembly of resources and procedures united and regulated by interaction or interdependencies (or organisations/persons) to accomplish a set of specific functions/offers in the market

(3) An arrangement of products, services, rules, organisations and supporting (infra)structures that all together enable the user to fulfil a certain need [based on Mont (2000) and Goedkoop et al (1999)]. The perspective of needs- or function fulfilment hence defines the boundaries of the system.


(4) A collection of elements and their relations. Elements can be material or immaterial. The hierarchic level, system boundaries and relations are defined mainly as a result of the researcher’s aim.

System(s) analysis

A systematic investigation of a real or planned system to determine the functions of the system and how they relate to each other and to any other system

System innovation

A leap change in the fulfilment of a certain need by a new concept that consists of an (new) integral arrangement of (new) products, services, policies, organisations, (infra) structures, etc., perceived as new by the participants of the system.

o A sustainable system innovation could be considered as an integral rearrangement of technologies, supporting organisational and economic regulation, knowledge, and cultural structures, in order to fulfil consumer needs in a more sustainable way.

o System innovations are supra-organisational quality improvements, which have to be established by different participants of the system with different kinds of knowledge and expertise, fundamentally changing the structure of the relations of these participants.

This definition of “system innovation” is derived from The SOP Methodology Framework (September 2001) of the European research HICS. Task leader: Prof. Ezio Manzini.

System Map

Map that shows the system organisation for each PSS action


The PSS project team that is executing the PSS innovation project


Total Cost Accounting.

Total Cost Assessment

In this tool sustainability issues are translated in quantified liabilities and possible value impacts on the reputation of the brands.


or decoupling

Achieving economic growth without an increase in environmental pressure.


Unique Selling Point.


Values Lifestyle typology (USA)

Value System Maps

Value System Maps describe all relevant values and variables as well as their relations of the System

6-Variables Checklist

Checklist that is used for describing the System – often used as a supporting instrument to accelerate the execution of the System Analysis

Virtue Matrix

Matrix to be used for finding optimum values for the social of a System.


Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment