Routines and workflows

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The non-redundant USM process model requires the cooperation between process components to create a service delivery performance. Each trigger leads to a specific sequence of these process components in the format of a routine.

The routine types of a service provider

Each service provider has three essential organizational resources: processes (the what), people (the who), and technology (the how). These three can be combined to three meaningful combinations: the routines of the service provider:

  1. process - this type of routine only specifies the activities
  2. procedure - this type of routine also specifies who executes these activities
  3. work instruction - this type of routine also specifies how the operator executes the activities
The three essential organizational resources can be combined to three types of routines


All routines are derived from the process logic. The management of the routines falls entirely within the scope of USM. It can even be considered as the core of the method. After all, the main challenge for service providers is realizing the best practices for converting the needs of customers into predictable performance.

It follows from this system of process, procedure, and work instruction, that procedures and work instructions are derived from the processes.
As practices define the things you do, practices refer to the level of work instructions and are also derived from processes.

Once the process model is known, procedures and work instructions can easily be recorded by means of templates: two extra layers (or columns in Excel) in a process description table, with successively the who and the how, record the procedure and the work instructions that can be derived from the process logic. USM provides a powerful process model that is non-redundant. With that unique process model, you can reproduce all  work instructions and, therefore, of all practices.

The USM process blocks

The triggers of the USM process model initiate a series of logical patterns that are determined by the logical relationships between the process blocks:

  • The process Agree can only trigger the process Change, for the goal of deploying the (update to the) agreed service.
  • The process Change can only trigger the process Operate, for the goal of deploying the released modification of the agreed service (component).
  • The process Recover triggers either the process Change (in case a modification of the managed infrastructure is required for the recovery) or the process Operate is such a modification is not required.
  • The process Improve triggers either the process Agree (in case a modification of an agreement is required for the improvement), or the process Change (if the improvement can be done within an existing agreement with a modification of the managed infrastructure), or the process Operate (if the improvement can be done within an existing agreement and without a modification of the managed infrastructure).
The USM Process Model with split processes


The USM workflows

Together, these standard patterns add up to only eight standard workflows, specifying the logical sequence of activities from the trigger till the requested result - as specified by requirement 5 of the USM process requirements. The work, consisting of combinations of activities, is done in the form of workflows with customer-relevant output. These are successive series of process steps, which - if set up in the right order - lead to the desired results.

Workflow: A logical series of consecutive activities, composed of parts of the process model, required to handle a call from initiation to completion.
The eight standard USM workflows; five reactive workflows and three proactive workflows


The 'cut' in a workflow, as demonstrated by a change of color, is in all cases explicit and unambiguous: at the point of the cut, another process is triggered or fed back, because the activities from that process are desired for the realization of the goal of the initiating process. Until the cut, where the next process is triggered in the workflow, the process consists of a fixed group of activities, just like after the cut: standard patterns, as demonstrated in the standard layout of each process.

In a customer-driven service delivery, these eight USM workflows cover all value streams, or customer journeys as these patterns are also called by some.

Standardizing a practice now comes down to specifying the three layers of the template of the routine, as described above. Because of the universal applicability of the non-redundant USM process model, the what is now defined by the logic of the universal process model, and the who and the how are determined by the local organization or team. This enables the standardization of the interfaces between all actors in the ecosystem.

The routine structures

The things an organization does in their daily practice (the practices) are always of type 3: generalized work instructions. The practices explain who does what and how.

Based on USM's universal process model, covering the logic of the WHAT in the process layer, USM now specifies two types of templates:

  • a procedure template: the process layer (WHAT) is filled with the USM logic, but the second layer (WHO) and the third layer (HOW) are blank.
  • a work instruction template: the process layer (WHAT) is filled with the USM logic and the people layer (WHO) is filled with the organization's choices, but the third layer (HOW) is blank.

The example below shows the three layers for these templates.

The three types of routines can be constructed as three layers, covering each of the three essential organizational resources


The unique, non-redundant USM process model leads to a series of logical patterns that follow from the triggers the model is exposed to; the USM workflows.

Standardization assures control

Because the customer organization depends on the quality of the delivered services, a service provider strives for maximum assurance of those services. This assurance is achieved by, among other things, the standardization of routines. After all, standardization promotes the predictability of the outcomes of these routines, and thus the assurance of performance (one of the USM principles).

Standardization can be applied to each of the levels of the image above:

  • The logic of the non-redundant process model leads to only 8 workflows.
  • For each of these workflows a procedure-derivative can be created by adding the who to the what.
  • For each of these procedures, we can create an unlimited number of practices by adding the how to the procedure.

What about 'value streams' and 'customer journeys'?

Value streams are defined as customer-facing and end-to-end activity streams, covering the delivery of a service to a customer, creating value. In USM, this equals the 8 workflows of the process model: they are customer-facing (level 4 of the Value Maturity Model) and end-to-end. On top of that, they are non-redundant and therefore maximum efficient. The concept of 'value stream' therefore equals the set of 8 USM workflows. Each value stream can be created by filling in the relevant USM workflow template.

For 'customer journeys', the very same applies: the refer to end-to-end, customer-facing workflows, and all customer journeys can be specified with the very same set of 8 USM workflows.

The e-book "Demystifying the term VALUE STREAM" explains this in detail.