How to Use Task Analysis Grid in Service Design

Designers usually find themselves stuck in the communication with the other stakeholders in the project in order to understand the project challenges that need to be addressed. While they communicate visually, CEOs and managers communicate using a 50 pages requirement documentation which can easily cause confusion for visual organisms like designers. This problem becomes even noticeable in service design. Unlike the product design, the service design uses the design process in order to solve problems related to service provided for consumers including the people, infrastructure, communication, and the service elements.

In service design, we need to fully understand the consumer behavior, experience, and pain in order to address these challenges in the service design process. When some tools can achieve this such as the consumer journey maps, it focuses on the consumer experience rather the tasks associated with it and how to communicate these tasks with all the stakeholders in a form of prioritized sub-tasks. These issues can be overcome using the Task Analysis Grid.

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What is the Task Analysis Grid?

The Task Analysis Grid is one of the tools that can be used in service design in order to avoid the miscommunication between designers and stakeholders that can occur due to the large number of documentations. The task analysis grid is a visual tool that tracks the experience of the consumers when using a specific service. This tracking includes the different touch points with the service, the pain points, and his or her wishes to improve the service. This experience is then translated into prioritized tasks for the team members.

The task analysis grid includes the following sections:The definition of the problem includes the consumer persona and how he or she complain about the current situation.

  • The definition of the problem includes the consumer persona and how he or she complain about the current situation.Before,
  • Before, After, and Future scenes are the expected scenarios before fixing the problem, after fixing the problem, and in the future after fixing the problemSub-Tasks includes the steps that consumer do before, during, and after using the service
  • Sub-Tasks includes the steps that consumer do before, during, and after using the serviceScenario includes the scenarios associated with each of the steps that consumer’s face during using the service
  • Scenario includes the scenarios associated with each of the steps that consumer’s face during using the servicePain-Points includes the pain or the bad experience that cause the consumer to suffer from the service
  • Pain-Points includes the pain or the bad experience that cause the consumer to suffer from the serviceFunctionality refers to the functions that need to be fixed or added in order to the improve the service design provided to the consumer. Each of the functions is assigned a priority in order to define its importance between all the stakeholders.
  • Functionality refers to the functions that need to be fixed or added in order to the improve the service design provided to the consumer. Each of the functions is assigned a priority in order to define its importance between all the stakeholders.

Applying the Task Analysis Grid in Service Design

In order to apply the task analysis grid in service design, we visualize the ideas in the grid based on the above information. In this example, we explore how to apply the task analysis grid to solve a retail service problem. In crowded glossary stores, the consumers find it hard to reach an empty checkout point. So, they get crowded in lines at a specific touch point while the others are less crowded.

service design task analysis grid
An example of applying task analysis grid in service design. (View larger size)

So, we will explore how we may improve this service using the task analysis grid . However, before we start with the steps, we need to define the optimal scene or target that need to be achieved. In order to do this, we need to define three scenes; the Before Scene, the After Scene, and the Future Scene. In our example, the three scenes can be described as below:

  • Before Scene: Sarah visits the grocery store after long working day, she spends a long time in the checkout points due to the large of consumers standing in the lines.
  • After Scene: Sarah visits the grocery store after long working day, she can get her grocery quickly without long waiting time at the checkout points.
  • Future Scene: Sarah visits the grocery store after long working day, she can get her grocery quickly and easily with no more than 2 persons standing at the checkout points.

After Defining the main scenes, we can continue with the task analysis grid sections below:

Step 1: define the persona and problem

We will use a persona of a middle age woman, Sarah, who would like to get her home needs from the grocery store while she is returning from work and still has busy time during the day. The grocery store is always crowded and she takes a long time in the line at the checkout point for the payment process.

Step 2: define the sub-tasks

Now, we will define the steps that the consumer do before, during, and after the retail experience:

  1. Enter the store doors
  2. Grab the needed grocery
  3. Walk toward the checkout points area
  4. Go to the line and wait
  5. Do the purchase and pack the grocery
  6. Walk to the grocery to her car

Step 3: the scenarios

The scenarios section includes the experience associated with each of the above sub-tasks. The scenarios clearly describe the situation associated with each sub-task. For example, in the first sub-task, Sarah drives to the from work to the grocery and park her car in the parking area. Then, she enters the grocery store doors. The same applies to the rest of the sub-tasks as highlighted in the figure above.

Step 4: Considerations

At this stage, the consumer thinks in solutions or share ideas about who she or he think this problem can be solved. These considerations are considered in the function section of the task analysis grid. For example, in sub-task number 4, Sarah would like to see a screen that can direct here to the checkout point that has fewer consumers standing in the line.

Step 5: define the pain points

The pain points can be detected based on the sub-tasks. In our example, In sub-task 1, Sarah doesn’t have any idea about how busy will the store to predict the time that she will take inside. In Sub-task 3, Sarah can’t identify which checkout point has the shortest line.

Step 6: Functionality

At this point, we need to translate the above data into prioritized functions that can be shared with the design team. In the first sub-task when Sarah access the grocery store doors, a screen can be installed to display the capacity of the store and the current number of the consumers already in the store.

The task analysis grid is completed based on the above steps until all the functions are defined and prioritized then it can be assigned to the team members. Below is another example of the task analysis grid used to improve the voice mail service by Comcast.

 

service design task analysis grid
Using the task analysis grid to improve the voice mail service design by Comcast (View larger version)

The task analysis grid is one of the efficient tools that can be used to address service design challenges by providing a deep understanding of the consumer behavior, their experience, and pains. While the usage of project requirement can lead to misunderstanding between the design team and stakeholders, the take analysis grid provides a visual to the situation, the tasks that need to be completed and allow the design team to prioritize the based on its contribution to solving the service design problem in order to achieve an improved consumer experience.

Rafiq Elmansy

Rafiq Elmansy is the founder of Designorate.com, author, and design and innovation consultant. He is an affiliated faculty teaching design at the American University in Cairo. He holds a master degree in Design Management with Distinction from Staffordshire University, UK. He has more than 17 years experience in the field of UXD and interaction design, and his books are published by John Wiley, O’Reilly Media and Taylor and Francis. He is also a contributor at the Design Management Review. Rafiq is a jury board member for the A'Design Awards, Poster for Tomorrow, and Adobe Achievements Awards. His design artwork was exhibited in many locations including Croatia, South Africa, Brazil, and Spain.