My mapping process

I got asked my process for mapping at work recently. I wrote it out and thought it would be good to share here. Thought's are appreciated, always learning.
October 29, 2021
  1. Understand why we need a map—write a brief or set some outcomes we want to achieve. The team will have a hand in deciding this and will outline: What do we hope to find out? How will it be used? Does it need to be a 'show pony or a compass'? Identify possible candidates of teams or preferably individuals that will 'own it' and keep it alive afterwards.
  2. Socialise this with the teams you will be working with to build the map. Your journey will almost certainly cross through multiple teams (unless your organisation has teams set up around customer journeys. Lucky you). This will be the first step in a relationship-building exercise as most teams are delivering towards their outcomes and backlogs pushing towards deadlines. 
  3. Find other maps. There is almost certainly another map of part of your journey you want to map in this day and age. What has come before? Identify what has changed and how it fits with your map. 
  4. Dig out the research. Data, insight, qualitative and quantitative, pull it all out, stick it on a (virtual) wall and synthesise it as a team.  
  5. Start the map. It can be rough at this stage; post-it notes on a wall. At this point, we can start to think about the map's resolution (if we wanted the most detailed map of France, we would have France. I have written about this too. Know when to stop.). 
  6. Interview SMEs and stakeholders or other folks who impact or design for the journey.
  7. Identify gaps. Are there any glaring holes? Are there things that the team think are missing? 
  8. Now is a good time to play this back to SMEs and stakeholders to sense check. 
  9. BONUS ROUND: Interview users. I'm an advocate for user research, but I'm also an advocate of getting things done. If you have time and budget, go ahead and speak to end-users of the journey to refine it further. However, it's probably ok with all the insight you gathered from points 4 - 5 for the first draft. 
  10. Focus it on the core journey.  Most journeys will have multiple branching journeys from it. At this stage, the team needs to figure out the journey they will focus on, so the map might need pruning to keep the team focused. This doesn't mean you ignore those journeys—you can reference them—you just can't fix it all. Some things to think about: Is it the most travelled journey? Is the journey with the most issues? 
  11. Make it accessible. You need to put some work in to make it digestible for stakeholders and other teams. Most maps are there for the team to use and are ok in post-it form in a shared language that means something to them. But you will likely need to share this with other teams and stakeholders. It needs to be, in plain English, jargon-less, shows the right thing for the context (pruned), and using an appropriate font size and design (easy to read—it will be viewed at different resolutions, so people need to skim read and dive deeper).
  12. Bonus Bonus Round: Prettify it. If, at stage 1, you identified that it needed to be a 'Show Pony, ' you need to spend some time to craft it. This is laborious and frustrating, but it can help your case if you need buy-in from senior folk. 
  13. Hand over or evolve. Depending on what the map is for, there might be a time of presenting the map and contracting with teams who will evolve it. If that is your team, rinse and repeat steps 5 - 7, baking in new data and insight as you get it. Like a river carving through a plain, it will change course over time, and you need to be sensitive to it. 

Anything I have missed? 

---

Photo by Valeria Fursa on Unsplash