Service Design in Municipalities

Service design in municipalities was chosen as one of the themes in GRUDE project’s webinars because even though the process is well recognized in the business world, it can greatly benefit the public sector as well. One of the main topics of interest in the GRUDE project is sustainable societies which means sustainable community development and innovations related to ecological issues and quality of life. Service design is all about involving customers, users and other target groups in co-creation of solutions to issues concerning them. Therefore, it is a topic well worthy of spotlight. Here are summaries of the event keynote presentations.

Project Manager at Innovationsguiden (The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions)

Innovationsguiden is a project by The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. The project’s objective is to bring users to the center of service development in municipalities. On their website, Innovationsguiden provides material ready to be used in development projects in the public sector, as well as crash courses in service design and coaching for projects. The leading idea behind the project is the reality of decreasing resources in public sector, and the need to provide as good and meaningful services as efficiently as possible. In a service design process, the foundation for creating new ideas is the understanding that by involving the users in the creation process it is possible to better understand their needs. Testing the ideas is also a part of the process.

The benefits of service design are manifold. First of all, creating services through a process like this is not expensive, because it is not time consuming and the methods provide quick results. Moreover, the process itself increases the understanding about the needs of customers, patients, visitors and residents.

You can find out more about the project on their website and in the video below.

Project Manager at Folkverkstan

Folkverstan is an Interreg-project between Sweden and Finland which aims to create “the service solution next to you” when it comes to repairing and serving household objects. The project itself has been designed through the service design process, and the aim is to create local meeting points for sustainability in consumption: a place where you can repair and upcycle your gear. A positive impact on the climate is pursued by decreasing ecological and economical stress which is caused by our current consumption driven lifestyle as well as a reduction of craftmanship skills. The project activities support sustainable development goal 12 in Agenda 2030: Sustainable consumption and production. Folkverkstan is trying to create a service design based “recipe book” for repairing of everyday products. In addition to increasing general awareness and creating a testbed for concept validation, an implementation guide and a business model is also planned in the future.

You can find more information on the Folkverstan Facebook page  

and on the project web site (in Swedish):

Business Creative at Passi & Ripatti Oy

Kainuu region in Finland used service design to involve citizens in the development of their everyday services. The process started by gathering 140 diaries from people living in the area, in order to better understand their everyday lives. The diaries provided information about how the system is currently serving people in different life stages. The diaries were analysed into customer profiles and several workshops were organized with officials from municipalities and representatives from businesses, third sector and citizens. One of the workshop themes was participatory budgeting, in which citizens were asked to prioritize the different public services.

The process was implemented in two stages. The first stage gave confirmation that by using service design methods it was possible to better expose the citizens’ needs and wishes for different services. It also turned out, that citizens actually wanted to participate in providing help and services to other community members, and that the current system did not sufficiently support that. In the second stage a new model for providing every day services was created. Ripatti emphasized the value of Experiential Data in creating meaningful, to-the-point public services and the usefulness of service design methods in providing the necessary information.

A publication about the project is available in Finnish and Swedish:
Räddarna i vardagen

And a summary in English:  

Q&A panel session

The topics of the day sparked an interesting conversation on experiential (qualitative) data and how it can be fully exploited decision making. As Hannu Ripatti stated “experiential data is the most challenging and most rewarding way of gathering information.” Sara Tunheden from Innovationsguiden added that it is important to combine qualitative and quantitative data as they support each other. For example, quantitative survey results can support stories that are gathered from the target group. In public sector, many things are dictated by finances, but allowing the actual users and citizens to actively participate in issues concerning them can produce immaterial value as well as economical savings.

Blog post by
Sari Nisula, Lapland University of Applied Sciences