Evaluating existing approaches to product-service system design: a comparison with industrial practice

The aim of this paper is to reflect on how representative the literature is in identifying industrial practice to designing product-service systems (PSSs). The paper analyses literature to report on the existing approaches used to design PSSs. A single exploratory case study approach, based on semi-structured interviews and archival data analysis, was used to understand an existing product-service organisation’s approach to designing PSSs. A total of 12 senior managers were interviewed from a cross section of the organisation to gain multiple perspectives on the PSS design process and 10 company reports where analysed. The research has identified that the PSS design process reported by literature is not representative, lacking inputs and outputs to some phases and feedback. 18 inputs and 11 outputs have been identified from the case study that are not reported by the literature. These create five feedback loops within the PSS design process used by the case study organisation. This suggests that the PSS design process is cyclic and iterative and not sequential as reported by existing literature. This research is based on a single-case study approach, limiting the ability to generalise findings, and does not provide a complete PSS design approach. This research compares literature against industrial practice to PSS design, presenting insight to aid practitioner’s design PSSs. This paper fills a gap in the servitization and PSS literatures; evaluating the approaches reported by literature against existing industrial practice.