This paper fills the gap between defining and measuring the productive limits of a service or system and the impact of various assumptions about the productive potential of the nature and informativeness of capacity cost management systems for the service industry. The focus rests on the various ways in which multidimensional limits (for example, time, space, volume and/or value-creating ability) can be used to define productive capacity. This research suggests that the limits used in establishing the capacity cost management system restricts the amount and nature of the information the system is capable of providing to management. The methodology used was a combination of analytics and qualitative field research. The outcome is the identification of capacity systems specifically suited for service operations. Such a framework allows the organisation to develop economies, make visible the drivers of waste and productivity and to identify the primary assumptions and implications of capacity limits.