A canvas to help Business Services teams innovate

If you work in a business services company (consulting, accounting, legal, etc.) and are in charge of evaluating ideas for innovation, most of the tools you’ve heard of don’t work. The same is true if you are trying to quickly show junior staff value each of your service lines offers to your clients and to your firm. So I created the KISS (Keep It Super Simple) Canvas for Business Services.

Template (click to view Google Sheet version)

All of the key information you need to do a basic assessment of an idea’s potential, or to communicate your business model quickly, fits in about 500 words (one page). Some highlights:

  • For the Client (in Green)
    • What clients you’ll sell this to and if they represent an economically interesting opportunity.
    • How committed the initial clients are to embracing the innovation.
    • The value proposition for each key stakeholder at your Clients’ organizations.
  • For your company (in blue)
    • The value proposition to the key stakeholders in the business units (BUs)
    • The level of commitment from that business unit to champion this innovation.

Example (click to view Google Sheet version)

The Story It Tells

For the client: A set of current clients who build and run renewable energy facilities have a problem. If we can solve that problem, there are a much broader range of clients with similar problems, so there looks to be a sizable market opportunity. Clients’ senior managers spend too much time and capital when screening sites, hurting project IRR (internal rate of return). The innovation addresses this challenge by eliminating poor sites quickly and cheaply, increasing the IRR for each site. While there are lots of alternate ways to solve this problem, the proposed software+consultant solution gives clients the best of both worlds. They get better data quickly, and when there is a question that software can’t answer comes up, consultants with deep expertise are a click away.

For the consulting firm: One business unit is already committing staff to test this idea out, and if it works there are a lot of other business units that could benefit from it. Partners in the firm are losing work to competitors that can do it faster and cheaper. A software site screening tool tied to the firm’s consultants would get them in the door earlier on projects, increases margins at the early stages, and streamline and win more the intensive work on the projects later. The firm could use some of the existing software solution on the market, but doing so would not increase the productivity of their workforce and drive their margins.

What this Canvas Does Not Cover

This tool does not worry about 10,000 other things that matter, but are not critically important at the start. Marketing, sales, revenue models, and partnerships aren’t covered because most business services companies only want innovations that leverage their existing systems and partnerships.

This tool has proven to be effective at allowing junior staff to run initial screens of idea submissions. This saves senior people time to work on the most high-potential ideas.

Get your own copy of the KISS (Keep It Super Simple) Canvas for Business Services.

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