Use cases and types of customer journey maps: workshop, project, and management maps
Journey maps have the power to create a competitive advantage for organizations, but what types of journey maps are out there and what are they used for? In this article, you get more detailed insights about the three main types & use cases of journey maps.
Over the years, the usage of journey maps extended noticeably and there are many meaningful sorts of journey maps. From those that will be discussed in this article, we have to differentiate the business cases of journey maps, which you can find some information about here.
The common differentiation for customer journey maps is between three main types or cases: workshop maps, project maps, and management maps. Although there certainly are more, this proved to be a useful categorization.
These maps are ideally co-created with customers, front-line staff, stakeholders, and others in a journey mapping workshop. Their main usage is to help teams identify needs and opportunities, or come up with ideas for identified pain points.
These maps help to break down complex experiences.
Such a map is a great basis for co-creative work. It ensures all workshop participants are on the same page and discusses various perspectives of an experience.
However, the map itself often isn’t the most important aspect of such a workshop, the conversations happening in front of the map often are more important than the tool itself.
Many times we just document it with a photo or screenshot and typically don’t come back to them.
Workshop maps are used in many design activities:
A co-creative workshop with users, customers, employees, or other stakeholders. Using a journey map as a boundary object is a powerful research method to uncover experiences and to learn customer behaviors.
Using workshop maps in ideation sessions helps to quickly come up with many ideas for specific pain points or opportunities. In particular, the context these maps provide around a specific experience allows workshop participants to share constructively and build upon the ideas of each other.
Co-creating or reviewing future-state journey maps during a workshop is a fast approach to creating first drafts or getting feedback before teams engage in proper prototyping activities. Such maps are called imagine-like prototypes as they allow participants to imagine a certain experience, align and create a shared vision, and specify the journey's risky parts that need to be prototyped. For more details on this and similar cases, check out our article on business cases of journey maps.
During the implementation of new products, services, or processes, workshop maps help teams quickly share feedback when plans meet reality. They can be a powerful intervention during implementation to reflect on future-state maps critically, often service blueprints, and define issues that need to be addressed immediately or in further iterations.
Using workshop maps in co-creative workshops needs to be understood as one research method that should be used in a mixed-methods approach – triangulation is key.
Workshop maps are done both on-site with paper templates and sticky notes or online with real-time collaboration whiteboard or journey mapping software.
Tip: Service design workshops are also useful to better understand the big picture – beyond journey maps, you could also use them to co-creatively work out personas or ecosystem maps. Learn more about service design workshops
Projects have different time frames, from a few days to several months or even years.
Project maps guide the project team and serve as a boundary object.
They are a place that consolidates research data, insights, ideas, opportunities, pain points, and imagine-like prototypes. Furthermore, they help teams to document prototypes and implementation challenges and iterations.
Often teams start with a workshop map from a first co-creative workshop with customers or employees. The next step is research loops, where maps are filled with data. Assumptions get validated or discarded and ideas are added from the project team, various workshops, and stakeholders.
Based on these current-state maps, teams usually develop a set of future-state maps that get tested and iterated on further during prototyping.
During a project, the project team typically works with different versions of these maps. A version they use internally and tailored versions they use for specific communication purposes:
Team-internal project maps
Maps used only within the project team.
Maps used within the project teams are used to visualize research data and align the core team.
They often get quite messy, because there is so much data visualized in them: customer pain points, ideas, opportunities, photos and videos, and also stakeholders (legal, IT, etc.).
Abbreviations are often used, and project teams develop a special vocabulary, what makes a map hard to understand for outsiders.
Team-external project maps
Maps project teams use to communicate with stakeholders.
Project teams use reduced and tailored versions of their project maps to communicate with various audiences.
These tailored maps reduce clutter and use clear language in order to make the map easy to understand for their audience.
Project maps are usually done with design software or dedicated journey mapping software.
Ideally the software to do journey mapping is standardized, otherwise you end up with a whole new challenge - journey maps in numerous different software solutions, which would make it really difficult to build a repository of maps.
Management maps are journey maps that are not used for one single project but provide a long-term overview of data, such as KPIs, pain points, ideas and opportunities.
Management maps give context to data by showing it at the respective step of a journey map.
They enable organizations to better prioritize their current and future focus areas. Linking management maps to each other on different levels allows zooming into details and zooming out for more context.
Management maps allow organizations to move towards continuously data-based decision-making.
Management maps are used for:
A hierarchy of up-to-date management maps can serve as a dashboard, showing all ongoing projects that influence the customer experience. Management can get an outside-in perspective of an organization by looking at up-to-date experiences and business KPIs, customer & team pain points, CX vision gaps, etc.
The cross-journey analysis of pain points, KPIs, vision gaps, etc. enables organizations to compare pain points and opportunities between journeys to identify the ones with the most significant impact. It also allows for identifying overlaps and contradictions between projects.
With management maps, organizations can build and maintain a continuous backlog of CX research, design, and implementation projects across various zoom levels and organizational silos.
Management journey maps are used to identify a change in performance metrics, highlight areas of improvement, and ensure that customer experience initiatives are aligned with organizational goals. Learn more about journey map management here.
Every kind of journey map has its own specific use case and is useful in a certain situation. Use cases of customer journey maps are also dependent on the point in time. A workshop map can evolve into a project map and then progress to a management map. Also, the other way around, a project or management map can be a great starting point for a workshop when used as a template.
A well-researched journey map can become a living boundary object, that shows its full potential when used continuously over time. Therefore it’s important to continue to work on maps and evolve journey maps over time, so they don’t become obsolete.
... and now, what's next?
Use Smaply to create your journey maps, does not matter what type you need and what use case you're facing.