5 O’Clock – Product & Service Line Design System

From Chapter 17 of my book “T&D Systems View” (2001) – available as a free PDF here

5 O’clock: T&D Product and Service Line Design System

This chapter presents the system and processes for architecting, or systems engineering, the T&D product line and service line prior to the start of any actual development (or purchase) activities.


5 O’clock: T&D Product and Service Line Design System

T&D Processes

– 5.1: T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process

– 5.2: T&D Product Line Design Process

– 5.3: T&D Service Line Design Process


T&D products and services have value to the enterprise when they focus on helping humans achieve high levels of performance in their job tasks within critical enterprise processes. Learning to perform, via appropriate T&D, is but one of many means to that end.

 Figure 17.1 T&D Systems View Model


This system’s processes organize and conduct the efforts to “systematically engineer” or “architect” the performance-based T&D product lines that make sense “programmatically.”

There are many potential T&D targets within an enterprise. Many are important. Few are absolutely critical. Few enterprises are in a current state of self-actualizing and have enough time and dollars to “spray and pray” or “oil all of the squeaky wheels” when it comes to T&D. Resources are always scarce, and there are always more problems and opportunities that you could, rather than should, address.

This system should use a reputable ISD approach to systematically define the performance-enabling awareness, knowledge, and skills; assess any existing T&D that the shareholder has already invested in; and then architect or systems engineer the T&D product line (and the T&D service line if nonproduct “services” are intended to be made available). The process produces a curriculum architecture and service line program management system. Product and service priorities for high-payback and critical business needs should be quickly, but carefully, identified and quantified.
Only those enterprise needs of highest impact in terms of return on investment and economic value add should be addressed, and only at the appropriate time given that there would probably be more efforts than just “training.” While the final list of medium and low priorities may be someone else’s highest priority, maybe even their number one priority, that does not make it right to address from an enterprisewide view. But the high priorities may be numerous, and some may need an integrated, program management effort to conduct many projects simultaneously.

Also, the elements of any business process are more than just the human knowledge and skill required. There are other factors that cause or inhibit performance, and some T&D professionals are in a great position to help the enterprise managers and executives see what the other gaps are in critical enterprise processes so that they may guide and resource noninstructional intervention development and deployment efforts to address them. Maybe a process and a tool needs to be improved, and no training is really needed! Or maybe both instructional and noninstructional interventions will be needed, making all projects more independent and complex.

Only those potential knowledge-/skill-deficient targets with high-payback, via increased revenues and/or reductions in costs and cycle time, should be planned, resourced, and managed. Only those targets that are critically important to the enterprise in the short and/or long term should be funded. No low-hanging fruit T&D projects/products should ever be addressed.

There is no reason to do otherwise from a shareholder view of where to strategically place their bets. When the bets are placed, the T&D system needs to be able to handle a complex load of projects and activities.

T&D Process 5.1: T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process

Process Purpose

The T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process oversees the effort to determine, across the enterprise, which T&D priorities to address. The decisions made as to which of the highest priorities from the various units/segments of the enterprise should be addressed, and in what order, are the province of the governance and advisory group. This process interacts with the Governance and Advisory System and responds, perhaps planning and implementing over a multiyear period, depending on the complexity of the enterprise.

Process Description

The T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process exists to determine the sequence of projects to address specific performance-based needs, with available T&D resources based on the prioritized, critical enterprise needs.

No target audience should be addressed because it’s their turn. Only address those target audiences that are in mission-critical processes and are experiencing performance issues or are expected to have performance issues where the cost of nonconformance (CONC) is large, and the cost of conformance (COC) suggests return on investment that is sufficient compared to the enterprise hurdle rates and other opportunities.

There is no sense in spending shareholder equity, future profits (or investment dollars), for low-payback returns. You wouldn’t invest your own money that way.

If the T&D system is supporting a Knowledge Management System, human competency effort, or ERP systems, it should deliberately populate such a system for “push” audiences only.

A “push” audience is one for which the T&D Governance and Advisory System specifically targets and resources T&D efforts to address an issue of sufficient magnitude. If T&D expenditures are to become investments with significant payback, the leaders of the enterprise need to deliberately identify these targets and then resource the efforts for T&D to carry out.

All T&D efforts for development and delivery should be for “push” audiences only, and all T&D content should be built specifically for them. T&D content is expensive in terms of both its initial costs and its life-cycle costs. But design and development can be done in such a way that T&D content chunks, also known as learning objects (as well as other names), are made available to “pull” audiences at a minimal incremental cost. Never should the typically constrained resources of an enterprise be invested in the low-hanging fruit of meeting the lower-payback needs of “pull” audiences.

The T&D staff assigned to this process collaborates with advisory groups representing their functions and any of their “owned” enterprise processes. Functions, such as sales or finance, own certain systems and processes that include players from multiple functions. Examples include engineers involved in sales-owned proposal and bid process, or sales reps and engineers involved in finance-owned expense reimbursement process. The various T&D product and service lines are determined by addressing these constituencies as reflected in the advisory group structure. See Figures 9-2, 9-3, and 9-4.
Advisory groups could be structured as simply as marketing and sales, engineering, manufacturing, staff, and management. As always, it depends. Look at your organization chart. Then take similar disciplines (such as accountant, engineers, writers), organize them into learning communities, and establish a T&D advisory committee.

The advisory groups are facilitated in this process to make their case to the board of governors as to what T&D efforts should take place, and provide business cases for each of their requests. The T&D board of governors will allocate the limited resources at their disposal to maximize returns. The board of governors may have provided input initially to the advisory groups as to their role in upcoming/ongoing enterprise initiatives and where to focus their own investigations.

This approach helps to meet the current issues of the enterprise as well as to prepare the enterprise for its future, based on inputs from the functional process owners.

Current issues and strategic needs should always get all of the resources, very deliberately, as determined by the Governance and Advisory System. This process works the T&D side of the collaboration and feeds it.

Process Outputs and Their “Utilities”

The key outputs from the T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process include the following:

Key Outputs Key Utilities
A list of prioritized T&D project targets with CONC and COC figures from each advisory group This will enable the Governance and Advisory System to make rational business decisions as to where to “strategically place their bets.”
A final priority list of target projects for T&D to address These are the marching orders for the T&D system for either product/service line design projects and/or product development efforts.

Is It Broken? Clues and Cues

Your T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process may be broken if

– Projects undertaken by the T&D system are not the most critical to the enterprise.

– Return on investment and economic value add forecasts do not exist or suggest a low-payback for the efforts.

– You’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop/acquire generic content, e.g., time management and communications skills, when strategic and/or critical enterprise initiatives have been underresourced in the past.
– No project management portfolio exists.

– The portfolio is not aligned with business or T&D organization strategy.

– The portfolio is not logical, and it doesn’t align with functions and/or management’s model of business.

Process Summary

The T&D Product and Service Line Program Management Process ensures that all T&D product development efforts are targeted for significant payback areas.

Systematic efforts are made, involving all members of the T&D Governance and Advisory Processes, to better ensure sufficient return on investment and economic value add for all T&D projects and programs, and that those metrics are the drivers for making the tough allocation decisions.

See the book for more from this chapter.

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One comment on “5 O’Clock – Product & Service Line Design System

  1. Pingback: 5 O'Clock – Product & Service Line Design System « EPPIC …

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