Relationships and Constituent Journey Mapping (Video, Podcast, Transcript)

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Understanding the relationships we have, and what journeys constituents walk with our organizations, is critical to nonprofit strategy—including technology strategy. 

Peter Mirus (Partner) led a discussion about how to analyze your organization’s relationships and create constituent journey maps that help inform everything from branding and marketing to information system requirements.

At the heart of this conversation was the idea that business process, data, and technology initiatives at nonprofits need to be relationship-oriented in order to produce the best results.

Before co-founding Build Consulting in 2015, Peter spent 15 years working as a creative director, brand strategist, digital communications expert, and data/technology strategist for organizations ranging in size from small/local organizations to Fortune 1000-sized organizations in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. His breadth of experience results in a set of relationship and constituent journey mapping techniques and tools that can be scaled to the needs of any organization.

As with all our webinars, this presentation is appropriate for an audience of varied business, data, and technology experience.



Peter Mirus:  Hello everyone and welcome to Build Consulting webinar for September 2020 entitled “Relationships and Constituent Journey Mapping”.  Today, I’ll be introducing some key concepts to inform how your organization thinks about engaging with your constituents sometimes called stakeholders.

What journey does your organization walk with each kind of type of constituent that you have?  Today we’ll learn how to explore the answer to this question and how it can transform everything from branding to business process design to the technology system you select and implement.  We had over 80 registrants for this webinar and several questions submitted during registration which I will try to address in the course of the presentation.  And please feel free to submit any questions you have as the presentation moves along or during the Q&A at the end.  It’s most helpful if you do this using the Q&A feature in Zoom.  You’ll also have access to my personal contact information for any follow-ups you would like to send my way and finally, recordings from this session will be available after the fact, in the form of both YouTube video and MP3.  Those will be emailed to you when they are available.

About the presenter and Build Consulting

My name is Peter Mirus.   I’m a co-founder of Build Consulting and a partner and I’m your presenter for this webinar.  Just a little bit about me:  I am– 20 years of serving all manner of nonprofit organizations ranging in size from small and local to enterprise and a global and across a wide variety of industry, categories, and admission orientations.  For about the past 8 years, I worked exclusively with nonprofit organizations and prior to that, I worked with other industry spaces.  I worked with about 100 clients in both the nonprofit, government, and for-profit spaces.  And I have three primary areas of expertise in marketing, constituent relationship management, and information strategy.

A little bit about Build Consulting, we work exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help our clients make data and technology decisions that support their missions.  And we will have a collaborative approach, which empowers our clients to make informed choices for their organizations.

All of our services are designed to help clients transformed themselves to better serve constituents of all types including funders, donors, program beneficiaries, staff, volunteers, board and committee members, and the general public. We were founded to help nonprofits used technology to transform themselves and the world and to address the fact that more than 50 percent of nonprofit technology projects fail.  This is typically the case because while the technology moved for — moves forward the organization often does not.  And this is a formula that we often show our clients stands for old organization plus new technology equals expensive old organization.  And we show this to clients to help them understand when it comes to any new technology initiative transformation is critical to your success.  There’s no such thing as a specific — particularly a major technology change project that is not also an organizational change project.

And for that reason, we would say that successful transformation involves leadership and governance, operations, process, data, and technology.  Technology is intentionally last because you have to get everything else upstream of it right, in order for your technology to be successful.

What is constituent journey mapping?

So that’s enough about Build Consulting.  But let’s get into the heart of our topic for today.  What is constituent journey mapping?

My definition is that constituent journey mapping is documenting the path each constituent walks with your organization throughout the entire lifecycle of that relationship.  And why do it?  Because it defines how your organization functions.  The applications for journey mapping are broad.  They can impact everything from the way that your organization brands itself, to the way it conducts its marketing and positions itself in terms of its marketing messaging and campaigns, fundraising and development, programs and projects, volunteer management, client or case management, accounting, human resources – you name it – has an opportunity to transform every part of your organization. And we’ll talk a little bit towards the end of today’s presentation before the Q&A about what success looks like for an organization.  What does it mean that when it does journey mapping well?  What are these characteristics that it has?

Every organization has a little bit different reason for undertaking a constituent journey mapping effort.  There is a use case that I’m going to introduce to you later on when I start to show you practical examples and samples of what the journey mapping looks like.  And for that organization, their “why” was they needed to support a leadership transition.  They wanted to increase their operational effectiveness, develop, and better support relationships, and improve their org-wide collaboration and knowledge sharing.  Ultimately, what they are shooting for in all of this was to increase their mission impact.

And in addition to knowing the organization’s “why” for undertaking a constituent journey mapping, it’s important to understand that the — “why” for the team members that are engaged in that mapping process to make sure that their priorities and interests are integrated.  That’ll align with the needs of the organization in most cases, but we really want to figure this out because doing constituent journey mapping well and then applying it to different functional areas within the organization, it represents a significant investment of time and a commitment.  And it’s very important that these individuals see something that benefits them and their needs and as they represent also the needs of the departments and the programs from which they come.

And that leads us into the question of who does the mapping?  I would say that everyone needs to be engaged at some level particularly when you are undertaking a mapping process that seeks to define at the journey is for all of the constituents that the organization deals with as opposed to just one or two constituent groups.  Typically, the constituent journey mapping team is a cross-functional team that provides data leadership and guidance to the rest of the organization.  The mapping team gets input from subject matter experts in departments, programs, and teams.  And they work with the organizations’ leadership to make sure key strategy, policy, and investment that is resulting from the mapping are mutually understood and sponsored.  And as you can see here, what I just said, at the end of the day, all organization — or the organization stakeholders will have some level of engagement from this mapping team.

Oftentimes, the team that does the mapping is something like a data governance committee or some sort of governing group within the organization that is going to undertake this effort and has the ability to reach into the different parts of the organization that need to be involved, in order for it to be done effectively.

Organizations will often ask “Who are our constituents?”  And the answer to that is really, in my view, all who provide or receive a benefit from the organization.  This is the used case that I alluded to earlier and will use this as framing for a lot of things that we’re going to be looking at subsequently.  So, I’m working with the national organization that performs research, training, and technical assistance.  Its advocacy and events pertinent to improving use services with over 65 staff and part-timers, full-time and part-time.  That’s full-time equivalence working across three major business units.  And they had two real things that they wanted to address to the course of this effort. Working to address brand and marketing fortuities associated from growing through mergers, so there are a number of different nonprofit organizations that had been brought together under one umbrella and they were trying to work to reconcile all of their individual brands and marketing efforts under one sort of corporate umbrella, so to speak.

And they also wanted to select and implement unifying collaboration productivity, CRM, and ERP platforms or to unite all of the business units on a common set of policies and best practices.  ERP, if you’re not familiar with the term, stands for Enterprise Resource Planning.  It’s basically an accounting system and an associated set of tools which can also include things like supply change management and HR.

So, this is what we’re going to be thinking about when I show you examples from the journey mapping process.  This is the use case to which they pertain. I just wanted to give you a little profile of what this organization is like.  So, the things that you see subsequently will make sense.

So, when I started working with this organization, we had to answer first before we could map the constituent journeys, what or who the constituents are.  And I think it’s important to think through potential constituents at all levels and I call this, that visual that you see on the screen here, the constituent benefit continuum.  And basically, asked to explore your constituents based on a basic benefit of what you do and end the benefit of what you do, and send what sometimes called an end-to-end benefit.  And this is something out of a playbook for doing actually brand and marketing strategy and I found it very useful to apply when thinking through constituencies, sometimes in the context of random marketing work that’s can be called doing an audience analysis and also talking about the value that you provide to customers and service recipients.

So, within this framework, here’s an example.  The basic benefit might be that you deliver an educational training to a client.  The end benefit might be that the client is better able to measure program performance as a result of the training that they received.  And then the end-to-end benefit might be that the client is able to thereby improve the delivery and impact of use services.  So this helps you to think about constituents in terms of who are the constituents that are delivering the training.  Could it be staff? Could it be volunteers? What does their journey look like with the organization that helps them provide that training or provide that benefit?  And then who is the immediate beneficiary of the training that is created?  In this case, it’s the client.

And then what is the client able to do better or differently through that immediate benefit that they received?  And are the people that the client is providing the services to a.k.a. families and children, are they a constituent in some way even if they’re only engaged with indirectly?

So, walking through this process for your organization and then what it does, where it creates benefit is very helpful in identifying the different constituent groups or types that your organization works with.

I also alluded to some extent that there is often providers and beneficiary constituent groups.  And I’ve put some examples of each category up on the screen here.  And the providers’ category you have staff, consultants, volunteers, and board of directors, those are just some.  You might also even include vendors in that category.  And then under beneficiaries, some examples I’ve put – program participants, project to clients, funders, national meeting attendees, these all pertained to the case study that we’re using here.  Beneficiaries could also include a variety of others that your organization works with that are on the benefit receiving end.  There can also be some crossover between the two.  Today’s beneficiary in terms of a client might be a volunteer or a program participant might be a volunteer later on.  It’s important to consider the overlaps and we’ll get into that in a minute.

I find that for many organizations the neglected side of the providers and beneficiaries constituent group of identification is on the provider side.  It generally don’t think about their own staff or the consultants that they work with or through, or their volunteers as necessarily being a provider – constituents in the same way that the beneficiaries are.  But it’s important to acknowledge that they are very much a constituent group and they need to be supported in the same way that other constituent groups need to be supported.  And oftentimes, that the quality of the journey that you provide to your staff impacts in a very real way the quality of the journey that you’re able to provide to beneficiaries.

So how do you arrive at the list of constituent groups?  Typically, in my work, it involves pulling the group of people that are going to be involved in the mapping together.  It’s usually a cross-section that people from different departments and programs, as well as, members of the executive team.  And we really do some brainstorming in a series of sessions to really just talk through all of the different constituents that the organization serves and all of its different areas.

And at the end of the first 60 or 90-minute session, you might get something that looks much like this.  Basically, a very detailed brain dump of all of the different possible constituent groups and their subgroups.  As you move forward, you might get to a more succinct group of constituents.  As you realized their potential artificial difference that were presented in the earlier session where you might say, “Okay, we can consolidate these two under a single heading.”  Or you might say, “Well, we have historically people in this category but we don’t really do that right now.  We don’t plan to make a part of our business in the future, so we can knock off that group or this group.”  So, there is definitely a process of how can we make this consumable and absorbable, as well as, how can we make it accurately descriptive and really make sure that they are attending distinctions without a difference between groups.

And then once you get it paired it down to a consolidated list, maybe by the third session, you’re actually starting to confirm that succinctly defining each one of the groups and you can see that I’ve put the groups and their definitions, shouldn’t be more than a sentence ideally for each definition.  And these are the ones that we arrived at for the use case that I described earlier.  We got clients, staff, partners, consultants, funders, national meeting attendees, formal network members, government policymakers, idea consumers, individual volunteer advocates, vendors, board of directors, and families and children.

And this is proven to be somewhat durable with some minor changes over the course of the several months since we created this group of definitions and then started working through the constituent journey mapping process for this organization.

A little bit earlier, I mentioned that it’s important to understand the overlaps.  And I’ve put a couple of small visuals up on the screen here to show just the progression of thought for this organization as to how they thought about and then visualized the overlaps between their constituent groups.  And basically what this is to do is to show folks and help them understand where a person can be a member of one group and then another group as well and how they relate to each other.  I’ll put a larger version of the final one up on the screen here.

The importance of doing this is not only to help folks in the organization understand the intersections between your constituent groups whether they are organizations or individuals within those groups.  But also, to help them understand where they meet and cross each other.

This is particularly important I find when you’re thinking about marketing messaging and you’re just trying to say figure out your segmentation, where there’s going to be overlap and messaging when a certain constituent is a member of multiple groups and there is overlap in that way.  It’s also helpful, for example, to create business requirements for CRM implementation because it helps you understand that for any given organization, or account record, or contact record, inside of the CRM that it might need to taken to accounts requirements associated with a single organization or a single individual that is in some way a consultant, also in some ways a partner, also in some ways a national meeting attendee, also in some way of a funder, et cetera. And this is particularly true for organizations that work with the constituents such as thought leaders or subject matter experts where an individual might work or a funder part-time, but also be part of a research center at a university, as an example.  And you have people that were multiple hats.  And that is the case of this particular organization and their constituents group.

This can be a very helpful tool for helping vendors as I said, whether they are a branding agency or a CRM implementation partner.  Understand your constituent groups and how they relate to each other.

What journeys require investment?

So, once you’ve gone through the process of just identifying what the constituent groups are and how they relate to each other and you’ve defined them, the question is: what journeys require investment now?  And this question really needs to be answered relative to each organization’s, strategic priorities and their current position.  And that will indicate which constituent journeys need to be prioritized and prioritized in a couple of different ways.  It might mean prioritized in terms of the order in which those journeys are designed and documented.  Then it also might mean the order in terms of directing — directing marketing or development efforts or in terms of prioritizing which technology systems you were going to select and roll out first.

In the case of the client that I was working with that the use case is based on, they organized their groups into– based on which most needed technology support or supportive technology for the processes that they were walking through with journeys.  Clients first, that is the center of their organization’s mission is to deliver training and technical assistance to clients.  But also the staff journey, they wanted to improve how the staff are recruited, onboard and provided with services and managed during the course of their time with the organization and so on and so forth.

And that eventually, through discussion and strategic deliberation, you might end up with something like this, where you’re talking about the first implementation of a technology platform and you’ve decided that these are the first constituent journeys that are going to be supported in that platform.  In this case, clients and funders were the primary beneficiaries that were going to be supported in their journeys.  And then also the providers that most directly related to delivering the experience to those clients and funders.  So those providers would be staff, the partners and consultants, and vendors.

And then future implementation phases as I said, for CRM and ERP systems would be these other groups that are out of the beneficiary side, for the most part, that are in black.  This would six through ten and twelve through thirteen.  And the priority is ones or one through five and eleven.

How to map a journey?

So, now we really get into the meat of what the journey framework is, how to apply it for mapping constituent journeys.  What you see on the screen here is a sample framework for approaching a constituent journey mapping process.  And basically, as a framework that everyone in the organization can understand that can be used to map the journeys.  This one is a complicated one, decided to show you first.  That has a lot of different process, phases, or journey stages related to more of a human services model of service delivery.  So, you can see across the top of the individual stages, you have prospecting where you would do the outreach and call to actions for services, for constituents that you’re going to be engaging with.  Some sort of identification through the response to that call to action and then a registration and intake set of steps.  And then finally, the development and delivery of engagement plans followed by progress reports and outcomes.  This is a fairly complicated example.

Here’s another example. It’s a little bit more truncated across the top here, you can see the constituent journey framework with a set of stages across the top, similar but a little bit simpler than what you saw previously.

But I would say that the more typical one is the one that I’ve shown — I’m showing on screen here.  It can be used for a lot of different kinds of journeys for a lot of different kinds of constituents.  And we’re able to use this effectively in the use case that I’ve been using in the course of this presentation for all of the thirteen constituent journeys that we identified for this particular organization.

Basically, it just includes a marketing phase, a development phase, an on-boarding phase, a service delivery phase, and a performance management phase.  And I’ll show you how this is applied across different kinds of groups.

I’m just going to take the client as an example here.  Now, this organization’s clients are organizations, not individuals, so it’s an organization for which you would — they would be performing a training or technical assistance project.  And they would be first — the first start of the engagement is really when the client is in the perspective client phase.  So, when we’re conducting marketing to identify what organizations might be able to benefit from the services that are provided in the context of a client engagement by this organization.  And then during the development stage, we’re really looking at qualifying and pursuing those relationship or engagement opportunities. Then during the onboarding, we’re doing a new client onboarding, also maybe if you think of that as a client or project’s kick-off.  And then during the service delivery phase, we’re really delivering any services or any other transactional exchange in the relationship.  This is basically the heart of the engagement so to speak.  It is in some senses, the longest or at least the most intense phase where you’re really in the process of delivering services within the context of that relationship.

And then ultimately, every journey needs to have some sort of performance management aspect to it.  And the use as you can see here, it’s reporting an analysis to improve client satisfaction and then the impact outcomes and profitability.

It’s important to note that not all of these phases or stages are strictly linear.  So even though your marketing is primarily done at the start of the relationship for the purposes of being able to move them from the marketing to the development stage, in reality, you’re continuously marketing to that client over the course of the lifespan of the relationship.  The same thing for performance management, there are outcomes that you would want to measure from each of these phases but the end of the relations — engagement or this particular client project would really be when you take a pullback look and make sure that the work has been performed well and how you would make improvements to the success of iteration for this or other clients.

You would apply the same framework if you were taking a look at a staff journey.  In the staff journey, this is for your organization staff.  You might start the marketing process by posting a job position or solicitation or doing some sort of networking through your contacts.  The development phase might include screenings, interviews, and ending with an employment offer.  The onboarding would be what you would typically think of with the new employee onboarding process, all of the forms that they need to fill out, and all of the orientation.  Basically, their welcome process into the organization. And then during the severest delivery phase, you would be thinking about all of the ongoing services that were provided to support that individual through the course of their tenure with your organization.  And then performance management again, I think that is very well understood within the context of HR or staff management.  There are employee and team performance goals, milestones, reviews, rewards, and incentives of different types.

Now, thinking about national meeting attendees.  Again, you have a marketing phase where you’re promoting your national meeting or conference with an outreach call or action.  Really getting people to the point where they say, “Yes, I want to attend this event.”  And then when they — when they make that response, you through a development process with them which is basically collecting their information to the point where they’re fully registered to attend.  Once you — once they are preparing to arrive during a virtual check-in and advance or at the actual event, you’re doing the onboarding where you’re providing the welcome and orientation.  That service delivery phase is the event experience itself.  And then finally, the performance management phase is reporting an analysis again to improve future iterations of this journey’s performance.

You know, oftentimes, for organizations that do an annual conference of any national annual meeting, they start planning for the next one even before the previous year’s meeting or conference takes place.  So really, you’re looking at a two-year cycle where you’re saying, “Okay, where we need to start applying the lessons learned and the analysis of the performance from this year’s conference or that to the one that’s coming up in two years.”

This same kind of approach might be used for an organization that has meetings and convenings on a much more frequent basis than annual.  But for this particular client, they’re just focused on a single national annual meeting.  Other organizations that you might think of like the Aspen Institute perhaps are conducting many, many meetings and convenings over a period of time.

So the question is, once you have a framework and — that you think you can all agree can be applied to all of your constituent groups and their journeys that — would allow you to think through the different stages and aspects of those journeys.  What do you do to get started in applying that framework?

I usually find that constituent journey mapping is best done through guided team journey walk-through sessions.  So if you recall earlier, we talked about who is going to be doing the constituent journey mapping.  Oftentimes it’s a cross-functional team.  I usually recommend that it be no more than eight to ten people to keep it feasible.  But sometimes, you end up having smaller or larger groups.  And basically, what you’re going to do is to use the framework as a guide to talk through all of the different parts of the journey and take notes as you go.  And the reason I call it a guided journey is because it often requires a good facilitator that’s familiar with the process that is not an internal stakeholder to be able to help conduct and guide those sessions.

Then usually, whomever is leading the analysis is going to go through those session notes from the walk-through and compile them and organize them.  And they’re going to say, “Well I need a little bit more information or a little bit more clarity in this area or there were some discrepancy or disagreement as to what a process in a particular stage of the journey was.  So when we do some follow-ups to call out some additional information or maybe organized small sessions to develop consensus in a particular area.”  Then you’re going to move on to actually documenting the journey and I’ll show you in a moment what that would include in some examples of content from that.

And then what you’re going to do is reflect that documentation back to the team for comments and revisions.  And then perhaps, most importantly at the end, you will hopefully have gained agreement that this is the journey that our organization walks through with this particular kind of constituent.

The output of a journey mapping

So what is the output include?  So for each constituent group, you want to have a definition as we discussed earlier.  And for each journey, you also want to know at the end of the day, what is the outcome or outcomes that we want to produce for the constituent in that journey?  And then for each individual phase of the journey – marketing, development, onboarding, service delivery, and performance management, you want to say, “What is the purpose of this phase?  Why are we going through this phase?  What are the important strategic perspectives that we need to document?  What’s going on in the organization right now that’s of strategic importance that lends color or impetus to this part of the journey?  What outcomes do we want to produce in this phase and how will we measure them?”

It’s important to put bookends or boundaries on the phase and say what is the very first thing that happens in this phase and what is the last thing that happens?  And then you want to make sure that you include process notes which at a high level of journey mapping which we’re taking a look at first here, really is just notation of key processes that occurred during that stage or phase in the point and particular points of interest related to that.  If you were digging down to a mid-level or very fine level of detail for that journey map, you would really get into a much more refined level of process documentation and we’ll also show an example of that in a moment.

We want to make sure that current systems and tools are documented.  The systems and tools that are currently supporting the processes within the phase, as well as any desired improvements for the phase.  You want to make sure that anything that you want to see that’s critical for the future state is documented.  So let’s take a look at some output of a high level of journey mapping in terms of some samples.  This will help you get an idea of the kind of content and the volume that we’re looking for in this high level of journey mapping.

First of all, as I said earlier, when you are starting with the journey documentation, you want to make sure that you define the group that the journey is going through.  In this case, it’s the client. The entities and individuals who provide funds to the org in exchange for goods and services that we delivered to them directly as the beneficiary.  This is a key term for the use case that I was discussing earlier because it differentiates a client from a funder.  A funder would be someone that is providing funds to the org in exchange for goods or services that is delivered to another party or parties as the beneficiary.  So, that’s a critical distinction.  So you can see this isn’t a lengthy definition.  It’s succinct into the point.

Also for the entire journey, you want to make sure that you provide as a simple a statement as you can of the outcome or outcomes that you want to produce.  And in this case, the org seeks to produce and maintain financially viable client engagements, excuse me, the result in the high-quality delivery of valued products and services.  Again a pretty simple statement, excuse me — and it doesn’t need to go into a lot of detail.  Just a simple statement of the outcomes.  You can definitely make it more complex than that, but at the end of the day, we want to have one clearly understood succinct outcome that everybody is shooting for when they execute this journey for this constituent group.

Now, this is where we start to get into the documentation for the individual phases.  As I said, a few minutes ago, when you’re talking about each phase, you want to identify the purpose of the phase, what is primarily happening during that phase.  What’s strategic context or perspective the organization has that can lend itself to the critical, understanding the critical aspects of this phase.  What the organization is going through right now and what it’s working towards. The boundaries or bookends, the first step and the last step in each phase.  And then you want to define the outcomes for that phase both in a general narrative sense describing what is intended to be produced but also some of the metrics that are used to produce, an indication of whether those outcomes are being achieved.  And you can see that there’s about seven or eight bulleted points here that this organization wants to measure on.  Some of which you can see in the notes are being currently collective and some of which are aspirational and I would speak more to the future state of this phase.

You definitely want to note down the key processes or the key factors that you want to take into consideration when thinking about this phase.  There are a couple of different ways you could go about doing this.  In the case that you see on-screen here, it’s more about the key points of emphasis.  It can also be a detailed sort of blow-by-blow description of the individual process steps that take place during that phase, but I would suggest that’s more appropriate for a medium to fine the level of detail in your phase documentation.  And I’ll show some examples of how you can get down to that level of detail in a moment.

As I said, you want to make sure that the current systems and tools are stated.  Here they are very succinctly for the first phase, the marketing phase.  And then you want to note down your desired improvements.  There could be many, many desired improvements for each individual phase.  We’re trying to take a more focused approach here and that’s where you see only six consolidated key improvements for this particular phase.  And you just have to remember that if you’re spreading this out and doing the — excuse me, if you’re doing the documentation for all five phases in the journey, ultimately, this is going to result in thirty key desired improvements for the entire journey.  And that generally gives you a good idea of how the volume of information adds up.  Well, it might seem, let’s say, you don’t have a lot documented for outcomes or for key processes or desired improvements for any given phase, over the course of the journey you’re really going to be looking at the substantial body of information.

So again, just to bring you back to where we started and taking a look at the framework, you definitely want to go through the process of executing all of these areas of discovery and documentation for each area of the framework.  So again, to give the voice-over to that marketing, development, onboarding, service delivery, and performance management.

Now let’s talk about how you can get more advanced with added detail.  Excuse me.  This is to get into the mid-level of fine level of detail that you might want to get to before you’re really starting to go through the process of designing a significant software implementation, for example.  Or even when you’re really trying to understand a very detailed level the engagement flow of the particular constituent.

The visual process of a mapping

So, this is where you would do things like visual process mapping.  And on-screen, you see here an example of a loan application process.  This would be very similar to a grant application process for a client of ours going back a few years now, and this really speaks to the development stage for this particular journey.  Where you’ve already identified a potential applicant for the loan through marketing processes and then they’re actually going through the process of engaging with you through a development process, sort of an application interview process, to see if the loan is right for that particular individual or organization.

You might also do a process narrative fine level of detail.  This would often accompany a process map such as you just saw.  And basically, in that case, the process map would have identified actions, so each one of those squares that we saw in this example would be a numbered action.  And then you would describe for that what the action was taken — is that was taking place, a narrative format, The actors that are engaged in that process, what’s going on that’s important about the current state of that step and any future start requirements.  You might even go to the length of documenting what major data objects were pertinent for that particular step.   And then just whatever notes and questions you had about this particular step, maybe a key point of emphasis or something that still needs to be resolved in regards to the particular process.

And since I have mentioned the major data objects here, I’ll just show you.  When you’ve gone through the constituent journey mapping process for all of the constituent groups, you really have a good insight into all of the data that needs to be collected and what its major sort of components or objects are across the entire organization.  And that in turn makes it much easier to produce data relationship or data object relationship maps like this.

And it does have cross-feed notation which you have to know how to read but it — groups within organizations that I’ve worked with that have worked with something like this, have been able to keep it in front of them as a one-page indicator of where and how all of the data that they collect is organized regardless of what system it is in.  So, this system-neutral look at the organization’s data.

And then if you really wanted to get detailed on the data front, you know, there are different points that are collected at many steps of the processes. You would really want to do a detailed data inventory.  And what this does is really gives you at the field level so to speak on a web form, for example, what the data is that’s being collected, what data object it’s going into, what the form field type is, what the acceptable range of values is, whether it’s required with the validation rules, et cetera, et cetera.

So again, in terms of the detailed process mapping for each phase, in terms of the way that you think about that for the form of both the visual and narrative steps and then the way that you start to model data based on that.  This is all what I would consider getting down to the final level of detail for your process mapping.  And it’s not necessary to do this for every particular application of a journey framework.  You basically want to say what is necessary for them that you want to achieve. Again with data object relationships here, we’re looking at a very fine-grained interpretation of how the data sits within an organization for an organization that’s considering a complete technology platform overhaul.  If you’re doing something else like just trying to understand how to think about engaging with a volunteer at a relatively high level so you can start to organize around that, you know, start out at the high level of documentation and see how far that gets you. You can add additional detail.  But I just want to emphasize primarily that this something that can be executed at different levels for different use cases.  And also it’s something that your organization doesn’t have to learn how to do the fine level of documentation and analysis right off the jump.  And that’s a big thing to undertake.  It often requires some sort of third-party guidance.  And it’s something that you can sort of get a toe into by just describing the phases of the journey at high level and then continuing from there, as needed.

How to measure success

So, let’s talk a little bit about what success looks like for an organization that really goes through this constituent mapping exercise — a journey mapping exercise at any level.  So, one of the profound changes that organizations often go through when they undertake this exercise is that it tends to reorganize around constituents and their experience of the organization and its mission rather than around business silos.

One of the things that our company, Build, often here is from non-profit clients is that they say well, our department are really siloed or teams are really siloed, or our programs are sitting in silos, you know, whatever — however the expression of that is.  And they want to do something about that.  Well, one of the keys to creating more cohesion and awareness of what organizations are doing across organizations from one department to another, from one program to another is to bring everybody together around the understanding of the constituent journeys. That way they understand what all of their peers are doing to support which journeys and to which areas.  And it’s actually a great way to talk about what the organization does from a very high macro, strategic level down to a very specific day-to-day, ordinary business operations level.

One of the second great outcomes that we see is that everyone has a common understanding of the constituent journeys and also a set of terms with which to discuss them.  Maybe there’s a constituent group that had been referred to in various ways by different parts of the organization or even maybe within the same team.  But they are essentially the same group of people.  But that difference in terminology can be — make it more difficult for others inside of the organization that are less familiar with that constituent group or even newcomers that are being onboarded to the organization as staff or volunteers, et cetera to really understand what’s being discussed. So definition of terms is very important, and that’s one of the things that you saw we do early on when we’re identifying the constituent groups that need to be documented, clear consensus-based definitions of who those groups are.  And there are other terms in regards to outcomes and — and processed steps.  Even the terminology that’s used to describe each phrase of the — phase of the journey is important as well. You want to make sure that when somebody says “Okay, we’re talking about the onboarding phase of this journey” that everybody is generally on the same page in terms of what that means.

Organizations do constituent journey mapping really understand how new proposed, strategic initiatives will make the constituent experience different and hopefully better because they really understand what’s currently happening, what has aspired for the future, and how the new initiative would shape that in a way that was either in conflict with those things or would enhance or lend additional value to those things. And so as a result, there’s a lot less guesswork as to whether an actual initiative, large or small, would be of benefit or how it would tie to existing activities.

And then finally I would note, the business requirements are much more easily communicated to vendors outside third parties who need to become familiar with what you’re doing in order to serve you well.  This could be brand agencies, software providers, you know, even accounting firms, et cetera.

Now one of the feedbacks that Build gets often from vendors in the software space is that our clients are more well prepared to engage in software selection and implementation efforts than their other customers.  And that’s largely because we’re doing these kind of constituent journey mapping exercises with our clients or something similar in the form of requirements gathering and documentation to really ensure that the organization is clear around what it currently does and what it would like to do in the future before it goes to the market to select or engage with their brand agency, their software vendor or vendors, their accounting firm, even outsource to HR, just about any kind of third-party professional service or product delivery that you can think of. It helps tie everybody into what needs to be accomplished so that it can be clearly and succinctly expressed and conveyed to someone else.

If you’d like to continue this conversation with me at any time, I’m happy to engage with you.  Just shoot me an email at  Happy to jump into a quick call or a Zoom session to answer your questions.  Also, happy to just email back and forth.  You can also connect with me via LinkedIn. and finally you can visit our website which has a lot of resources and both in our blog and the learning section that pertain to this topic as well as the things like organizational and technology change management, information strategy, technology initiative leadership. A whole host of issues that would really help hand how your organization thinks about itself, how it determines to best conduct its operations, and how to support those operations using technology.

Ordinarily, at this point in the presentation, we’d have a Q&A.  Unfortunately, as you may have noted from any audio tweaks during the middle part of the session, we had a Zoom system failure when we were originally making this presentation.  So, the last third of it was recorded on a separation session that wasn’t live.  So, we didn’t have an opportunity to do Q&A. But I just wanted to emphasize again that if you like to reach out to me with any questions that you might have, I’ll try to respond as promptly as I can.  And hopefully, that’ll serve as a good substitute for the Q&A process that we would have engaged in.  As I said at the top, I think we had over 80 registrants for this webinar and a lot of interest in the topic.  I try to answer many of the questions that came up during the registration process or would typically come up for a subject like this as I went along through the presentation. But again, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks again for making the time to attend the webinar and or to watch this video or listen to the MP3 recording.  The video, as well as the MP3 and the transcript, will be made available within the next few business days on the website and we’ll be sending a newsletter out to all registrants when that is available.

So again, thank you for your time.  And thanks for taking the opportunity to learn something that we hope is of value to your organization in achieving its mission.  And thanks for all the great work you do in the nonprofit space.  Have a great day.

Microsoft Dynamics and salesforce