Putting Products Into Services

Putting Products Into Services: A revenue-growth playbook for consultants and law-firms

HBR September 2016, p82

By Mohanbir Sawhney

Any article that mentions re-engineering, as this one does, is a good one in my book. Sadly, re-engineering was only a fad and quickly died out so it is nice to find that the concept of taking a rational approach to the design of an organization is still alive in the world of management.

The idea behind re-engineering was to model current organizational processes, design a new one that worked better and implement it with the help of computers and software to mechanize the repetitive functions in the process and provide decision support to the people responsible for the work. Essentially, this is manufacturing engineering applied to knowledge work and this article does a good job of showing how this concept can be utilized by service firms. The author says this:

“I describe three key stages of the process: discovering potential products by identifying opportunities for automation; developing the products and enabling them to process, analyze, and learn from data; and monetizing them by building a revenue model that captures benefits from automation and the application of analytics.”

Automation algorithms are good at high-volume repetitive tasks. Sophisticated tasks require strategic decision making and do not automate well.

Implementing this within the organization requires a change to the organization design. People and processes must change. The article recommends creating a dedicated productization team, using a cross-functional approach, and using different metrics for the change.