Within the world of Design Thinking, one of the most effective understanding tools we use when working with a customer project that deals with workflows and sequencing is Journey Mapping. Routinely depicted as a type of narrated flowchart, the result of this mapping is to capture our customer’s actual and ideal journey through their workflow. We recognize effective transformation of our customers’ workflows must first begin by ensuring we clearly understand their existing process, activities, and outcomes. Consider the following template and description as a starting point for your Journey Map.

Where are we going? We first begin by identifying the specific workflows and associated stakeholders of the systems we are working to transform and modernize. We review existing documentation describing the business processes and workflows and whenever feasible, we interview and observe stakeholders going about their work. This approach further validates our understanding and brings clarity in potential discrepancies that may exist between what customers describe as their process and their actual workflow.

  • Where do we start and end? In this step we identify the beginning and end of the workflow. While knowing the workflow as identified in Step 1 [or even earlier from a contracting artifact] would assume the beginning and end of the workflow is clear, often there is discrepancy among stakeholders as to when an their workflow actually begins and ends. We work to bring clarity to these workflow milestones avoiding the common pitfalls of circular processes that go nowhere or processes that have infinite steps that move forward but never achieve a desired end result.

  • What’s my next step?. Each step of the workflow identified as a significant point along the journey. As a rule of thumb, work to keep the steps under a dozen. While this is a somewhat arbitrary number, it represents a good starting point based on taking about an hour to map out an initial journey map; allotting 5 minutes per step to identify and summarize the step.

  • How are we feeling? Capturing the emotional state of the responsible individual executing their step within the workflow is key. While on the surface this may seem a little “touchy feely”, this emotional information is often useful when understanding the underlying challenges during a specific step that are addressed in the new workflow. They may also act as targets for further innovation and increase likelihood of happy users in the new and transformed workflow. Plotting emotion is simply an activity of identifying when something is “good”, “just ok”, or “Houston, we have a problem here”.

  • What are the peaks and valleys? Once the journey map has documented the workflow, we go back through the workflow to circling the high and low emotional points along with documenting what made them high or low. Capturing any additional context for these emotional ratings can also be factored into our future workflow improvements.

  • What if the world was perfect? As the facilitator capturing our customers’ workflow, we envision how this workflow would flow if everything went smoothly. Considering the emotional data points, draw a line connecting the emotional highs to begin to formulate an improved workflow. This drawn line is sometimes referred to as a “happy path”.

  • What jumps out? As a final step, it is important to reflect on the customer workflow recognizing this map contains multiple dimensions such as activity sequencing, sometimes different individuals engaged at various steps in the workflow, and their emotional state during the performance of their work. We look for patterns and other characteristics that provide opportunity for improvement.

Using Journey Maps helps Chainbridge Solutions understand the workflow currently being used to support our customers’ business. We recognize the transformation of a workflow is most effective when we have empathy for our customer by first understanding the “as is” and collaborating with our customers’ to arrive at the “to be”. Only then can we incorporate technology innovations such as Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation to bring effective transformation for our customers.