This is the second article in a three-part series on journey mapping during the “new normal”. The previous article provided the background and context in which I journey mapped my entire organization’s operational flows as the company moved to work in a fully remote capacity. This initiative introduced new challenges in the form of scope, scale, and content.
This article will be focusing in more detail on how to create journey maps in a remote context. I will cover how to gather information for the journeys along with resources I found helpful at each step. I included some revised examples of the core deliverables created at each step of the process. Treat this as a starter guide for taking on a similar initiative.
Getting Aligned on the Problem
Before starting the journey process, it’s important to understand what the primary problem is. Get a clear alignment on what is the company trying to solve for. Is it to be more efficient or for more clarity of the current workflows?
Understand how the information captured is intended to be used. Will it be used to build new digital workflows? Will it be used to scale growth more efficiently? These types of questions will help frame the direction for the project.
Finally, align on the persona. It’s optimal to base your persona on the largest demographic or client base. While it may be tempting to take on several personas at once, or branch, do your best to refrain. This will overcomplicate an already complex journey. A good persona will keep everyone aligned and prevent scope creep.
Journey Maps vs. Service Blueprints
It’s worth making the distinction between Journey Maps and Service Blueprints. For the purposes of this case study, here’s what to know: a typical UX designer works in the product world, designing digital products and experiences. This work focuses on the “user”, the person taking action with the digital creations we design. How a user interacts with a product is captured in the journey map.
This project focused on the “client” and “potential client”. This approach involves looking through the business lens. While this work lives with the Client Experience (CX) and/or Digital Experience (DX) realm, occasionally UX gets involved. Service Blueprints display the customer experiences (frontstage) in parallel with company workflow (backstage). This concept of the “frontstage”/ “backstage” journey is a core differentiator.
Select Tools That Will Work for Your Organization
Tools are critical for the success of any project and now that most companies are working remotely, finding the right remote tools is critical. The types of tools you will need for the remote environment are:
Collaboration and note-taking
Design tools for deliverables
One suggestion is to look for tools that provide easy integration and flexibility. My company uses the Google suite that allows us to schedule and integrate video links into the invitations. It’s not uncommon for scheduling conflicts to arise. This tool makes it easy to accommodate the changes, keep an updated calendar, and maintain the video link with just a few clicks. There are numerous great tools becoming available every day for online collaboration, these lists are just a selection of what you can use at each phase.
Setting up the Right Framework for Success
Now that the tools are set, it’s important to create a framework upfront that will help facilitate and capture findings efficiently. Have a list of core questions with some follow-ups for each. Here are a few questions you can use to start creating your list:
- Describe current role and daily tasks
- Discuss the current workflow
- What’s working well and what isn’t?
- Where or what can we optimize?
Collaborative Note Taking Framework
Create a framework within a collaborative tool to capture data gathered. While simple documentation in a Google doc works well, it’s important to also capture information visually, in a digital manner similar to using stickies and whiteboards. Prior to starting the interviews, create the visual framework that can be used at every session. This will make it easier to capture and sort the main points.
This framework should indicate things such as:
- Journey title
- Journey milestones
- Frontstage area
- Backstage area
- Pain points
A tool such as Whimsical, has a framework that is easy to modify and collaborate in real-time. It also has digital notecards. Color-code the cards based on the type of information you plan to capture. For this project, the following cards were used:
- Blue cards = people
- Green cards = processes
- Yellow cards = tools or technology
This framework was flexible enough to capture a variety of content, high-level ideas to nitty-gritty of workflows. Later, this framework made it easy to modify and iterated upon. Consider these factors when creating yours.
Getting the Strategies to Work for You
High-level strategy: Double Diamond
While the double diamond framework was covered in my previous article. It provides a great framework for how to structure the process at a high level. This tool guided my thought process on the various phases of information gathering. The process involves diverging to look at all the information and ideas, and then converging by refining and assembling those ideas. Further detail on the application of this framework in the section below.
Tactical-level strategy: Information Sort
This data gathering model focuses on the process of extracting, sorting, and arranging data in a contextual manner. This is a more tactical approach to documenting and modifying useful findings.
Initially, all the information is captured in a document. That information is then categorized and often color-coded for this purpose. The categorized information is then clustered into common themes. From these clusters, a linear flow is created, demonstrating the learnings captured.
Applying the strategies
Start at the high-level discovery. This step will involve talking to the executives and the high-level subject matter experts (SMEs). At this point your questions and note-taking framework is set so the main focus should be on meeting and capturing the key information and gaining an understanding of the high-level vision conveyed.
While it is also best practice to include the external client in this phase of the project, due to the sensitive nature of the project and timing, I was unable to work directly with clients. However, several previous company projects gave me the right exposure to understand the hurdles and opportunities that are faced by clients at each step.
Be open to as much information as you can obtain. Record and absorb as much as possible. Use resources to help you like a note-taking partner, video chat captioning, or a note-taking browser plug-in.
After capturing as much information as possible, the next step is to look through the findings for common themes. You already have a color framework established, so it will be easy for you to go through and color code the note sections that correlate. Next, you will need to group the clusters and arrange them into contextual learnings.
- Tagging and sorting data can be overwhelming. Schedule assistance from SMEs to help you.
- If you are seeking assistance from SMEs, some may not be comfortable using remote collaborative tools like Whimsical. Provide SMEs with information in a format they are familiar with like a document or spreadsheet.
- After you have all the groupings, get them into a collaborative visual tool (such as Whimsical). Here you can easily rearrange and iterate on information in each cluster.
At this point you are starting to ask questions about certain workflows. You are starting to notice narrative gaps and clusters of information that need more details. At this stage, you will need to look for the people in each area of documentation. Work individually or in groups to interview and capture all facts needed.
- Find each SME that plays a key role in the journey. If they have a significant role, schedule a separate meeting to just hear about their workflow.
- If the SME has a small role or complementing role, invite them to the larger working groups once the core parts of the journey have been built out. Their experience will be a great way to fill in the knowledge gaps.
- Align with stakeholders and SMEs on individual workflows.
- Validate points within small workgroups of SMEs. Use visual notes to reach consensus in alignment.
Now that you have all the information validated, it’s time to put it in a high-fidelity format. Consider a framework that allows for you to have visual elements that show not only the actions at each step but also any relics that may be pertinent. For example, the tools used in each step of the workflow were important to capture. Sketch made it easy by allowing logos to be pulled in and modified within the journey framework.
- Start with a low/mid-fidelity tool to refine wording, labeling, and workflow chronology.
- Create a high-fidelity version of the final deliverable.
- Share the high-fidelity version with the collaborators and SMEs for additional revision.
Once you get this deliverable ready, the next step is to let people know. Ensure that there is a strategy for keeping it a living document by creating governance and assigning people to take on the update of the mapping. I am currently working through this phase and will be covering my learnings and experiences in more detail in the final article of this series.