Creating a journey framework

Creating a journey framework

Learn how to setup a journey framework in minutes - not weeks.

Before diving into this guide, please first read the guide about hierarchy. After you understand how TheyDo’s core elements are connected, and how a journey framework helps the organization to get aligned, it’s time to create your own framework. In this guide we will zoom in on using the journey framework to create a customer lifecycle overview. Ready to get started? Here’s what we’ll cover:

Fundamentals of setting up a framework

You’re likely either setting up a framework from scratch, or ‘converting’ an existing framework to TheyDo. In the next steps, we’ll walk through building a framework from scratch, but we’ll highlight tips you can use no matter what starting point you come from.

The essential framework elements

To structure your journeys, TheyDo uses a framework that is organized using the following structures:

  • Journey Framework: this is the top level of the hierarchy and is a structure made out of boards.
  • Journey Boards: define the main chapters in your framework. Every board consists of any number of journeys, organized using stages and lanes.
    • Stages: are used to split up your boards into smaller experience parts. For example, an ‘onboarding’ board can be split into ‘creating an account’, ‘payment’, and ‘first use’ as stages.
    • Lanes: help you to compare different variations of journeys. For example, to compare an ‘online’ buying journey as compared to an ‘in-store’ buying journey.
  • Journeys: the building blocks for the entire framework. You can use them on one or multiple boards at the same time (i.e. if you are a large bank, the journey ‘I identify online’ also influences the customer lifecycle for ‘mortgages’ ‘personal banking’ and ‘loans’).

This structure of boards and stages can be used to ‘split up’ the customer lifecycle into manageable parts. These parts form a solid, unchanging framework that you can use to connect all your journeys and their different variations.

If that’s all a little too briefly explained, read our in-depth guide on TheyDo hierarchy.

Reaching the right level of detail

Boards and stages can be seen as the ‘birds-eye overview’ of your full customer experience. It’s important that this overview has the right level of detail: too much and you lose the big picture, too little and your overview becomes too generalized to say anything specific.

To achieve the right level of detail, here are three rules of thumb:

  • Aim for a journey framework consisting of 4-8 boards.
  • Aim for boards that each contain 3-5 stages.
  • Define stages so that each stage describes a part of the customer experience that a person can complete in (nearly) one go. That way you’ll be able to map roughly one journey per stage. Have a look at our journey guide for more about journey scope and where a good journey starts and ends.

If you end up with more boards or stages, try merging them together. If you end up with less, try splitting the most broadly defined boards or stages into more detailed ones. Reaching the ‘sweet spot’ is an iterative process that might take several rounds to complete.

Involve the right people

Since a customer lifecycle often spans multiple disciplines, departments, and countries, it often helps to co-create a customer lifecycle with representatives of each to get the full picture. Especially in larger organizations, there is often not one person that has a complete overview of the full customer lifecycle.

Furthermore, make sure you involve your customers as well. Ask them what they see as the key chapters of their experience, and validate your framework with them. That way you make sure your framework is built up according to how your customer experiences it, instead of according to how your organization or processes are organized.  

Step 1: Create a new framework in TheyDo

To get started, log in to TheyDo and head over to the purple sidebar menu. Then click on the Framework button.

Here you can give your framework a name. 

Using a template

TheyDo comes pre-packaged with a series of customer lifecycle templates from which to choose. Every template contains pre-defined boards and stages that serve as a starting point for creating your own lifecycle. Templates include:

  • Customer Lifecycle – Service: contains ‘not a customer’, ‘become a customer’, ‘onboard ‘, ‘I am a customer’, ‘I renew’, ‘I leave’, ‘I get support’ boards and stages.
  • Customer Lifecycle – Product: contains ‘discover’, ‘try’, ‘use’, ‘maintain’, ‘engage’, ‘support’, and ‘renew/leave’ boards and stages.
  • Customer Lifecycle – Marketing: contains ‘awareness’, ‘consideration’, ‘purchase’, ‘retention’, and ‘loyalty’ boards and stages.
  • Employee Lifecycle contains ‘recruit’, ‘onboard’, ‘work’, ‘grow’, ‘retain’, and ‘exit’ boards and stages.

Step 2: Add boards to your framework

After creating a framework you can start adding boards to it. Ask yourself: If you would break down the full customer lifecycle into 4-8 main chapters, what would they be? Keep in mind that they don’t have to be in chronological order; view them more as categories to group journeys together. 

If you don’t know where to start, we typically see organizations mix and match the following options:

  • Chronology: I Discover/Onboard/Use/Leave. These are almost always present in any type of lifecycle. ‘Use’ is often split up into more specific boards, often using some of the boards mentioned below.
  • Customer jobs: I Manage/Monitor/Develop/Maintain/Support. These are often used in service or product-related frameworks.
  • Frequency: Daily/Weekly/Quarterly/Yearly. These are often used in boards that contain many recurring journeys. Examples include consumer products and brands (year of a consumer’s life with yearly repeating events), financial planning (that often include recurring payments), or education (which often includes returning study cycles and events).

Adding boards

There are two ways to add boards:

  • From the sidebar, under the Journey Framework you just created, you can hit the Add Board button. 
  • In the Framework area on the right – Hover over to the gray area and hit ‘Add board’ to create a new stage in your framework. 

A popover will open and ask you to select a board from the list or create a new one. Type the name of your Board or select it from the menu below. 

What’s cool about this, is that you can also work backwards: set up one or more boards holding journeys together, before you roll them up in a framework.

A few quick tips on Journey boards:

  • Each board has an Owner or Manager. She will be the one visible as the go-to-person for questions and will receive notifications about changes in the board. 
  • Here’s where you can use templates to predefine the board’s structure. TheyDo helps you to set up stages very quickly this way.
  • In case you are already thinking about adding it to a framework, select the one you want it to be added to.

Step 3: Add horizontal structure with stages 

After creating a basic structure for your journey framework with a few boards, you can break them down even further by creating stages. What 3-5 stages can any board be broken down into? Try to define them in such a way that each stage describes a part of the experience that a person can complete in (nearly) one go.

If you’re creating a lifecycle from scratch, at this point you might find out you have to reshuffle stages, rename boards, or split or merge them. Keep in mind that this is an iterative process and it’s ok to take a few spins before you get it just right.

Adding stages helps to break down your boards in more detailed sub-chapters

There are two easy ways to think about stages:

  • Time-based: From left to right, try to break down the board into a timeline of before, during and after. (i.e. in the ‘Onboarding’ board, the stages can be Signup/Set up/Try/Reflect). 
  • Customer job based: Another way to split a board into a horizontal hierarchy, is to take the mindset of the customer. What is she trying to do at this stage? Or how does she go from here to there? (in the ‘Onboarding’ board it can be ‘see/think/do/love’). These are often used in service or product-related frameworks.

Adding stages

To add stages to a board, do the following:

  1. Go to any board, and in the top of the gray area click ‘+ add stage’ to give your stage a name.
  2. Drag stages around to reorder them.
  3. Repeat this process to add as many stages as you want.

Showing stages in the journey framework overview

Show all stages in the journey framework overview

In the journey framework overview, click on the ‘view’ button and then ‘show stages’ to show stages per board. This gives you a visual reference of all stages and how they’re grouped under different boards, which comes in handy when you’re setting up a customer lifecycle.

Step 4: Define your vertical structure with lanes

Boards and stages can be seen as the ‘horizontal’ structure for ordering your journeys. This structure makes sure everyone adds their journeys at the right point in the lifecycle. But did you know you can also add a vertical structure to split your journeys? 

Lanes help you to keep overview of multiple journey variations

In every board you can add multiple lanes, which essentially creates a vertical grid for journeys. This vertical structure enables teams to create, filter and compare different variations of journeys. This can be useful in a number of scenarios.

Vertical structure scenarios

  • Channels (e.g. retail vs. online) help your organization to look at different journeys based on different channels.
  • Service or products (e.g. Product A vs. Product B) help organizations to compare variations of journeys with different products or services. Think of comparing budget vs. premium service plans.
  • Customer segmentation (e.g. SMB vs. Enterprise) helps compare variations of journeys related to different customer types. In general we would advise to use personas within journeys to compare the experiences of different customer types, but it can happen that journeys for different customer segments become so different that it helps to create different journeys and lanes for them.
  • Geographical area (e.g. Country A vs. Country B) helps organizations that have localized variations of journeys, or want to see the difference in experience across different parts of the world (or within a country). 

Creating lanes

To add lanes to a board, follow these steps:

  1. In any board, hover over to the first column of the gray area.
  2. There is already a first lane called ‘lane’ and you can rename it by clicking on it.
  3. To add additional lanes, simply hover on the line below and click the purple button to add a new lane.

Need help defining the best structure for your business? Our team is here to help

Converting your existing framework into boards and stages?

Do you already have a framework? Well done! In that case, the question is more about how you can convert your existing framework into TheyDo’s boards and stages.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for how to do this, but we would recommend doing it in such a way that you end up with the recommended level of detail for boards and stages. The key to this discussion is how your hierarchy levels correspond to the hierarchy levels in TheyDo. Simply put: Which parts of your framework can be ‘converted’ to boards, stages, or lanes? If you are still wondering how your existing framework might correspond to TheyDo, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Step 5: Add your journeys 

Congratulations! Your framework is now ready, and it’s time to bring in the journeys.

As you might already know, Journeys in TheyDo exist in a separate repository. This means you can create journeys anytime, anywhere and they will end up in the repository. The frameworks and boards that are the structures that you can ‘fill’ with journeys.

Adding journeys is as easy as drag & drop

Whether you are adding journeys to your framework from the repository, or creating new journeys, organizing your journeys is as easy as drag & drop.

Adding journeys is often a good test to see if your framework covers everything. You should be able to fit all of your journeys somewhere (under a board or stage). If you find a journey that you can’t place, it simply means you have to redefine a stage, or split up/contract/expand the journey itself. 

Adding journeys

To add new or existing journeys, follow these steps:

  1. On a board, hover over the place where you want your journey to start.
  2. Click ‘Add journey’ and select the journey you want to add from the menu. If you want to create a new journey, type the new journey name in the menu, and hit Add journey
  3. Your journey is automatically added to fit within the stage.
  4. Using the purple side handles of the card, drag the right side of the journey to its end.
  5. TheyDo automatically snaps the phases of a journey to the stages.
    If you want to overwrite this, use the map stages from the little menu on the top right of a journey card.
  6. Repeat this for every journey 

In case you don’t have any journeys mapped

If you don’t have any journeys mapped yet, the framework provides an excellent starting point to decide which parts of your customer lifecycle you want to explore in more detail. Are there any journey boards or stages where you know that improvements can be made? Start mapping journeys there.

We recommend not picking more than three to start out. ‘Completing’ your journey framework with journeys for every stage is an ongoing process: start where it’s most needed. Seeing gaps in the framework is also useful information for your teams to understand. It’s often better to be aware of what you don’t know (yet) than to not be aware at all.

Using journey types to filter (current vs future)

Another variation that often occurs is current vs. future journeys. Current journeys map the way customers experience journeys in the present. These help you discover insights, opportunities, and solutions to improve them.

Future journeys are the result of rethinking what journeys might look like if you implement some of those solutions. They serve as a ‘blueprint’ or a ‘dot on the horizon’ that can act as a goal to work towards. More information about current vs. future journeys can be found here. 

To distinguish these types of variations in your framework, you can use the current vs. future filter. Current will only show journeys that customers are currently experiencing, while future will only show the blueprints for the future you’re working towards. 

Share (and lock) your framework

Now that your journeys have been added, as complete or new as they are, it’s time to share. First of all, if you go back to the ‘Framework’ level from the sidebar menu on the left, you will see a visual representation of all your journeys and boards in one place. This is a great way to quickly check if you have everything in place.

But before you share, there is one thing you can do to make sure all those stakeholders don’t just ‘accidentally’ mess up everything you have created: lock your framework.

Locking your framework

If you don’t want other people to edit your framework, or boards as an Admin, you can lock your content:

  • Locking framework – this means that all boards and their content are locked. Every editor in your workspace can now only view the framework and boards, but they can work inside the journeys. Only you and other admins can unlock. 
  • Locking boards – this means that all boards and their content are locked. Every editor in your workspace can now only view the framework and boards, but they can work inside the journeys. Only you and other admins can unlock. 

Sharing your framework

Chances are, you didn’t create this framework alone. But if you are ready to get your team on board, you can start inviting them as viewers or editors from the ‘add user menu’. You can set permissions on a Workspace level for everyone you invite.

Whenever people sign up to TheyDo using your invite link, they will be able to see (or edit) your framework and start collaborating on improving the customer experience. 

With the framework in place, you are ready to start managing journeys.



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