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After defining the purpose and setting the attributes of your prototype, you are ready to pick the right prototyping tool!. In prototyping of processes and services we distinguish between prototyping of functional characteristics (, we usually start with an holistic outline of activities different stakeholders pursue along a timeline and how they interact with each other. It is the answer to there question: "What happens?") and qualitative characteristics of a process / service ("How does it happen?"). A functional prototype helps you to display the sequence of steps of a process or service, roles, locations, coherences and the logic behind it. .

Examples are:

  • Process model
  • Flow chart
  • Sequence diagram
  • Service / process blueprint

A qualitative process / service prototype helps you to display the quality (look & feel) of each single step or a sequence of steps. As a second step, we often dig deeper into the details and try to envision more qualitative attributes of the process or service and answer the question: "How does it happen?".

Examples are:

  • Storyboard
  • Metaphoric model (e.g. LEGO)
  • Realistic visualization / 3D renderings
  • Visual storytelling video / screencast
  • Process / service simulation (e.g. role play)

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Q & A

  • When shall I choose functional prototypes and when shall I choose qualitative prototypes? Often, a functional prototype is the first step when planning the testing of a process or service component. Then, when refining it, qualitative aspects can be included. However, including qualitative aspects only makes sense if this level of detail is needed e.g. in interaction with customers/users.
  • When shall I use simple physical prototypes and when virtual prototypesrenderings of service encounters? Often it makes sense to let a team set up a LEGO® model of the process. This is the easiest and fastest way to come up with an easily changeable model which includes roles of persons, subjects and locationsjot down a service blueprint or build a LEGO® model because it involves all team members. It is a comparably easy and fast way to come up with something tangible that often enables a better understanding in a team. Later, the model may be transferred into a the digital model world, which is more clean and easier to communicate. In outward communication it also looks a bit more professional.Why
  • When shall I invest time in 3D prototypes at all? Especially the first steps in process prototyping are characterised by a lot of adjustments and changes. This is easily done with representative objects which can be manually combined and respositioned instantly. Too, the effect that we can touch, feel and modify often enables a better understandinginto making a rendering of a process model? This only makes sense if a LEGO® model is perceived as too abstract or metaphorical. It also depends on whom you will present the model to. Not everyone can and not everyone wants to deal with LEGO® models. Then, some kind of a more realistic model such as a rendering is a good way to go.


We use the following tools to build process / service prototypes in Business Design projects:

Rendering - Qualitative prototype
Service / Process BlueprintA simple tool to answer the "What happens?" question along a timeline.
StoryboardSimilar to the service / process blueprint but  enhanced with pictures and drawings illustrating qualitative aspects of the service ("How does it happen?")
LEGO® Serious PlayA special edition of LEGO® with a selection of bricks and elements which are suitable for process / service prototyping.
Role PlayAs easy as it is, sometimes playing a process through with others is sufficient to quickly analyze simple processes or to better communicate an service idea.
Symbolic magnetsA magnet board with symbolic magnets combined with white board markers helps to quickly draft a process / service.
LEGO® Serious PlayA special edition of LEGO with a selection of bricks and elements which are suitable for process / service prototyping.
Sweet Home 3DEasy setting up of buildings and interiors with nice libraries of useful shapes. Easy and fast to work with.
BlenderPositioning and rendering of service settings. Drafts from Sweet Home 3D can easily be importet and rendered.
FreeCADIn case the process / service prototype needs to show individually designed products, these can be designed in FreeCAD and then easily be imported into the setting in Blender.
Powerpoint / KeynoteGood for quick 2D sketches and flow charts. Suitable for first drafts which may still be very abstract.
VideoScribeSoftware to create professional video animations.
SimplefilmA small company producing short movies to display complex context in an easy and entertaining way. Interesting for developing storyboards.


LEGO® Serious Play - Functional prototype

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composedTitleBusiness Design Knowledge Base - Process / Service Prototyping
keywordsservice prototyping, process prototyping, prototyping tools
titleTools for Process / Service Prototyping

LEGO Serious PlayImage Added

We usually start with an holistic outline of activities different stakeholders pursue along a timeline and how they interact with each other.


Service / process blueprint

A very visual and quick way to outline a service or a process is a service blueprint. A service blueprint consists of 1 to many "swim lanes" on which activities of different stakeholders (e.g. customers, front staff, partners) are sequentially described along a timeline. Interactions between activities or stakeholders are marked with arrows. Define your  "swim lanes" and off you go.

LEGO® Serious Play

A process model with LEGO® is set up very quickly. Basic components of a process such as stakeholders, equipment and locations can be easily visualised and continuously modified. Even metaphorical expressions can be included.

LEGO Serious PlayImage Added

In the example above tasks taking place at a customers home are modelled and right next to it on the right side the plant at which the product for the customer is being manufactured. Still interested? Have a look at our short tutorial.

Rendering of service encounters

Having started with a LEGO model or going directly to a rather realistic process visualization we can use a combination of (e.g. role play), we sometimes use tools such as "Sweet Home 3D" (good libraries for shapes such as furniture and people) and "Blender" (surface textures, custom objects and lighting) . Existing CAD models can easily be make service encounters tangible.Process PrototypeImage Modified

Above, a process of customised furniture ordering and manufacturing can be visualized in only very few steps. A customer scans the location where a customised piece of furniture is needed and customizes the furniture by a VR software. The order is taken in real time, the components of, in this case a shelf, are manufactured and packaged to be sent to the customer.This  Even this type of virtual visualization allows quick adjustments while providing a clear picture.

Magnet board

[Foto einer Prozessdarstellung mit Magneten und farbigen Markern]

Role play

Another simple "tool" for process & service prototyping is role play. You literally play in real life how are processes or service is supposed to work. Do the roles play over and over again and modify things on the way. Prepare the location and  accessories that will be used in the role play as realistic as possible. For building physical or software-based accessories, you may need other prototyping tools as well.