Almost Done” by Makaio Maher | Sterling College, used under CC BY / Cropped from original

It’s generally understood that the “product” of a Professional Services (PS) organization is the knowledge and experience associated with the technical consulting activities related to advising your customers and/or performing actions on their behalf.  As such, it is first and foremost in the minds and practice of your consultants. But it can also be tangible intellectual property (IP) in the form of documented processes, templates, and other forms of physical or electronic content.  So how is this “services product IP” managed?

Services Engineering is the discipline of creating, capturing, sharing, and improving the intellectual property (IP) associated with PS offerings.  I’ve also seen this function referred to as Services Development, Services Knowledge Management, and even Collective Wisdom.  Regardless of the label, when done well this capability incorporates aspects of knowledge management, collaboration and community, as well as continuous improvement.

To better understand the basics of Services Engineering, let’s consider it in the context of a startup.  In this case, a single person performs all the activities associated with providing a professional service. Simply put, it is:

1.     Do a project for a customer

2.     Archive the deliverables somewhere

3.     (optionally) Abstract them into templates

4.     Re-use these templates/deliverables

5.     Improve them over time as you learn

 That’s it!  In fact, the foundation for a Services Engineering discipline could be as simple as this:

    • Ensure you have a shared location for final customer deliverables
    • Ensure you have a shared location for deliverable templates
    • In your delivery methodology,
      • Add “Get project templates” to your Project Initiation checklist
      • Add “Store project deliverables” to your Project Closeout checklist
      • Add “Did we learn anything that should be captured?” to your Project Closeout checklist
      • Host a simple meeting to explain the above to your consultant team



NOTE: I’m speaking of “Professional Services” in the context of technology consulting and implementation services. 

However, the concepts should be transferable to other types of professional services.

By looking at a concept from the aspect of the very small end we can focus on the bare essentials. In addition, by taking this view we can ignore issues that start to arise as complexity increases.  

What do you think?

  • What do you call this discipline of creating, sharing, and improving your Professional Services knowledge/ IP?
  • Do you define it differently than I have above?
  • How consciously is your team performing this today?  Is it an explicit function or perhaps done haphazardly?
  • Do you struggle with the business benefit to justify the practice of Services Engineering?

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