Use cases

The use case methodology has been used in service design to describe the most critical instances and occurrences in a scenario (Morelli, 2002, 2006). In information technologies, use cases are described in a diagrammatic way and with a plain language description of the flow of events, actors involved, pre and post-condition for each use case, alternative paths and other relevant elements. The graphic representation of use cases in information science is only emphasising sequences of events and logical links. (See figure 1)
Example of graphic representation of use cases in information architectures

Figure 1 Graphic representation of use cases in Information architectures
Transposed in service design process, use cases can use a more detailed graphic representation, which would provide a broader amount of information, concerning physical or virtual spaces in which the interaction is developed, physical movements and the specification of actors working in the front and back office.
Figure 2 A graphic representation of a use case for design purpose (a shared office)
Scenarios and use cases are good methods to involve different actors in the design process. Actors (final users and local service providers) can participate to their development by using plain language explanations or requirements. Designers may facilitate such cooperation by proposing adequate colloquial representation of scenarios or detailed representation of use cases that explain each phase of the service process, including information on role and responsibility of actors in the back office (See figure). The choice of adequate representation technique will be discussed in the last part of this paper.

Figure 3 Use case illustrating the booking system for a meal service for ageing people. Source (Nilsen et al., 2006)
Unlike traditional management and organisation tools, such as TQM or IDEF0, scenarios and use case do not cover all the possible instances in a service, they focus on service aspects that are critical for the service process. However those methods are also able to point out qualitative and implicit characteristic of the service that a purely functional approach may miss out.


Morelli, N. (2002). Designing product/service systems. A methodological exploration. Design Issues, 18(3), 3-17.
Morelli, N. (2006). Developing new PSS, Methodologies and Operational Tools. Journal of Cleaner Production, 14(17), 1495-1501.
Nilsen, S., Ohana, M. S., Svarrer, S. C., Thomassen, N. G., & Vestergaard, J. (2006). Delight Assist. Project and process Report 7. Semester ID. Aalborg: School of Architecture and Design, Aalborg University.