Methods for Conceptualizing Product Service Networks (PSS 101) was about developing a framework of methods, techniques and tools that improves conceptualization and communication between all those involved in design and development, across industries.

Products are no longer just products, Services not only services. Take Océ; once they used to sell printers.. and now they ‘support document management across different departments.’ Exact, well known for its Financial and Administrative software, now produces business service systems for SMEs, enabling them to integrally support and manage their business, including relationship management.

This type of thinking requires new design and development structures, moving people out of their traditional compartments, meeting the needs of an often diverse and evolving group of end-users. Product Service Systems (PSS) are designed in highly dynamic network environments, mixing people and parties, models, interests and goals.

What questions were answered?
Teams from TU Delft, the Design Academy Eindhoven and Industry partners were working together to answer the questions:

What are the demands that networks of users impose on providers of PSS?
How can the provider cope with the organizational changes needed?
In which way can networks of Creative industries facilitate this process?

What have the teams achieved?
A Framework and Toolset that will help design-partners better understand the needs, values and ambitions of end-users in their networks. Together they have formulated a shared vision for a PSS proposition, leading to a documented, context-driven PSS concept.

Timeframe and communication:
PSS 101 startedin 2011 and finished in 2015. Throughout the project, we have communicate information and results via this website, Master Classes, and Workshops. We have organized an annual event for the creative industries, and integrated our findings into educational programmes.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Delft University of Technology and the Design Academy Eindhoven;
Creative and Industry partners: STBY, 4C-MG, Exact, Oce industries and Zuidzorg

Project leaders
Dr. Ingrid Mulder, Delft University of Technology
Prof. Dr. Pieter Jan Stappers, Delft University of Technology


  • Understanding networked collaboration: fields and patches of interactions Henze, L., Mulder, I. & Stappers, P.J. The current work elaborates on the development of a framework for networked collaboration inspired by literature research of Actor Network Theory and Boundary Objects as well as insight gained in case studies and workshops Download
  • Networked collaboration canvas: How can service design facilitate networked collaboration? Henze, L., Mulder, I. In order to get a better grip on the networked nature of the new forms of interorganisational collaborations a Networked Collaboration Canvas has been built elaborating upon Actor-Network Theory (Latour, 2005) and Boundary Objects (Star & Griesemer, 1989) addressing the interactions between actors and objects involved in PSS development (Henze, Mulder, & Stappers, 2013).  Download

Networked Collaboration Canvas: Boundary Mapping tool

In the creation of products and services that add value, the human-centred approach process is characteristic. A deep understanding of the user experiences is the starting point in this approach. The vision on, and the conceptualisation of, the products and services are based on these insights.
Activities taking place in highly dynamic network environments is another characteristic of the PSS creation process.
These highly dynamic networks make it difficult to stick to the human centred approach through the entire creation process. Especially after the design activities have finished it is rare to find stakeholders who act upon a good balance of consumer values and business values, or consumers that are empowered to induce products and services fitting their needs. Often the user values are hardly taken into account in the translations of the product and service solutions offered by design into products and services provided on the market and in use. However, design activities could facilitate these stakeholders, by bringing in objects (prototypes, visualisations etc.) and methods and tools that evolve these objects into mediating tools.
The networked collaboration canvas helps designers to understand the stakeholders needs and act upon that.
In a workshop, with as many as possible stakeholders involved, firstly an overview of all activities in the PSS creation project, and stakeholders involved in these activities,  are co-created. Then the canvas is used to map all activities, including stakeholders and objects involved, and the connections between activities. The canvas provides the coordinates for the mapping: the swimming lanes the main networks are active in (labelled experience, design, organise) and the space in between the lanes where heterogeneous activities take place (i.e. co-creation) and a general timeline. Tokens, depicting stakeholders and objects, are provided to put on the canvas grouped in activities. By drawing arrows, the activities are connected.
Making this map on the canvas opens up discussions on, and insight and involvement in, the collaboration in the networked PSS creation.
After this first workshop design can use the canvas to create mediating objects.
Applying the canvas in several cases has proven the value of the tool. It supports the understanding of the complexity of the collaborations and how to facilitate the networked activities. But since the networked environment is highly dynamic, reflection on the PSS creation process should be a repeat action.
To make the canvas more interactive in order to make it more practical for continuous reflection on the PSS creation process, is the next step in the development of the networked collaboration canvas.