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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 and journey boards 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 both of these cases however, we would recommend reading this guide; we’ve highlighted 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 organize and compare different variations of journeys. For example, to compare an ‘online’ buying journey as compared to an ‘in-store’ buying journey.
  • Journeys: are 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 smaller, manageable parts. These parts form a solid, unchanging framework that you can use to connect all your journeys and their different variations.

If we use a parking analogy: If your framework is a parking complex, the boards are different parking areas in that complex, while stages are the different parking spots in which you can ultimately park your journeys. Micro journeys (normal cars) fit within a single stage (parking spot), while macro journeys (vans and trailers) might overlap several of them.

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

Overall framework principles

Throughout this guide we share several rules of thumb for each step. Each of these rules can be boiled down to the following principles:

  • Aim for the right level of detail: Boards and stages can be seen as the ‘birds-eye overview’ of your full customer experience. To keep this overview, it helps to build it with the right level of detail: too much detail and you lose the big picture, too little and your overview becomes too generalized to say anything specific. We’ll share several guidelines to make sure you hit the right level of detail for every hierarchy level.
  • Match your framework scope to your journey scope. Since you’ll be using the framework to ‘park’ your journeys, it helps to match the scope of your boards and stages to the scope you use for macro and micro journeys. This ensures that your journeys will fit your framework like a glove.
  • Keep the customer perspective central. We recommend using the framework to create customer lifecycles, although in principle you can create any kind of categorization with it. We’ll share several more tips thoughout the article to help you ground your framework in your customer perspective.
  • Keep the framework agnostic of channel, persona, or (in some cases) products and services. Define your boards and stages in such a way that they can be used to describe multiple channels, personas, and products/services as well (in case their lifecycles are similar enough).

Tip: To organize journeys based on your teams or domains (inside-out), we recommend using journey group tags. This gives you the best of both worlds; your framework gives you the customer-perspective of your journeys, while tags help you to make cross-sections of those journeys based on your teams, products, or domains.

In case you are facilitating setting up a framework

If you’re leading the creation of a framework, here are several tips on facilitating such a process:

  • Co-create with other experts. Since a journey framework often spans multiple disciplines, departments, and countries, it often helps to co-create a framework 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 framework.
  • Co-create with your customers. 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.  
  • Expect an iterative process. Setting up a framework is an ongoing process. The more you learn about your customers, the more you’ll be able to fine-tune your framework to better reflect their experience. Reaching the ‘sweet spot’ is an iterative process that might take several rounds to complete.

Step 1: Create a new framework in TheyDo

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

Here you can give your framework a name. 

Rules of thumb for creating Frameworks

If you’re an organization with multiple products, countries, or domains, you might be wondering how many frameworks you need to cover all of them. There are several rules of thumb you can use to determine the number of frameworks you need:

  • Aim for no more than 5 frameworks per workspace. This keeps things manageable. If you’re a company with many different types of products or services; see if you can group products or services together in categories, and create frameworks for these categories instead.
  • If customer lifecycles are 80% the same, combine them. If the boards and stages for different products and services will be 80% similar, we would recommend combining them in the same framework. For example; a budget and premium airline experience could be similar enough to combine in the same framework. Tags and lanes can help you distinguish between these different journey variations. If lifecycles don’t match so much, it’s probably better to create separate frameworks; trying to force-fit different products and services into the same framework will probably overcomplicate things (see example below).
  • If Frameworks will have many overlaps in opportunities or solutions, create them in the same workspace. The power of TheyDo lies in working ‘across’ journeys, for example by defining opportunities and solutions that have impact across multiple journeys or frameworks. So if you anticipate that different frameworks will have overlapping opportunities or solutions, it’s a great idea to build those different frameworks in the same workspace. If not, creating separate workspaces might be a better option; this gives you more control over who gets access and also helps to separate journeys, opportunities and solutions, which improves overview.

Imagine a train company that wants to map a national and international train branch, as well as their employee journey. The national and international train domains are similar enough to group in the same framework: the boards and stages that will make up their customer lifecycles will be similar. The employee journey however will consist of a completely different lifecycle, and will have little overlap with the train journeys in terms of opportunities and solutions. It will also be worked on by completely different teams. In that case, creating a different framework is in order, and possibly a different workspace as well.

Using a template to get started

TheyDo comes pre-packaged with a series of journey framework templates to help get you started. 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: Split up your framework into Journey boards

A framework’s scope is much too large to manage. Therefore, we have to split it up into smaller parts. We call those parts ‘Journey Boards’. See them as the main ‘chapters’ of your framework. You can add any number of journeys to a board. Journey boards help you do several things:

  • Split up your framework into manageable parts: Boards help you to split up your framework into smaller parts. This helps to create overview, and keeps these parts manageable.
  • Organize journeys: Boards consist of stages and lanes. These create a structure that you can use to subdivide them further, and organise all types of journeys.
  • Collaborate and inspire: Boards provide one place where your teams can work together on journeys. It’s a great place for them to align journeys and get inspired by journeys that are already there, which also helps to prevent double work.
  • Create insight: Journey boards also help you to compare journeys, using the empathy graph and different types of journey filters to create different cross sections. For more on this, have a look at our guide on the topic.

Rules of thumb for creating boards

There are several rules of thumb to keep in mind when splitting up your framework into boards. These can help you to create boards with a consistent format and level of detail across your framework:

  • Subdivide a framework into max. 8 boards: In order to preserve the overview and keep the number of boards manageable, we recommend to add a maximum of 8 boards to a Framework. Ask yourself; if you would split up your framework into max. 8 chapters, what would they be about? If you end up with more, consider if you can merge boards together.
  • Define one (broad) customer job per board: Each board should result in your customer accomplishing one broad customer goal or job. Since we’re at the top hierarchy level of your framework, these jobs can be described very broadly; ‘I onboard’, ‘I use’, or ‘I manage’ are perfectly fine. Ask yourself what the most important thing is that your customer is trying to accomplish in every board. This helps to make sure you create your boards based on the perspective of your customers.
  • Write from the first person: Try to write your boards from the first person, for example by using the format ‘I [customer job]’. This helps ground your boards in the perspective of your customers. For example; ‘I onboard’, ‘I manage’, or ‘I use’.

Board structure examples

Boards can, but don’t have to be structured chronologically. Organisations often mix and match chronological and non-chronological boards to create frameworks. See boards more as categories or clusters that group journeys together. Some examples include:

  • Chronological boards: I Discover/Onboard/Use/Leave. These are almost always present in any type of lifecycle. ‘Use’ is often split up into more specific (and non-chronological) boards.
  • Non-chronological boards: I Manage/Monitor/Develop/Maintain/Get Support. These are examples of boards that often occur, but which people don’t necessarily experience in the same order every time.
  • Boards organised by frequency: Daily/Weekly/Quarterly/Yearly. Another way to structure boards can be based on frequency. This can be useful in boards that contain many recurring journeys. Examples include branding boards (year of a consumer’s life with yearly repeating events), boards describing financial planning (that often include recurring payments), or education (which often includes returning study cycles and events).

How to create a journey board

There are two ways to create boards:

From the sidebar: Click on add a board to create a new board. under the Journey Framework you just created, you can hit the Add Board button. 

In the Framework: Hover over to the gray area and hit ‘Add board’ to create a new stage in your framework. 

When you create a new board, 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. 

Board preferences

When you create a new board, you can set up several preferences for it. You can edit these later as well by clicking on the three dots next to the board title.

  • Title: Add a title to your board.
  • Owner: Each board has an Owner or Manager. The board owner functions as the go-to-person for questions about a board, and will receive notifications about changes in the board. 
  • Template: Select a board template. Several often-occurring templates are provided to get you started with a pre-defined board structure.
  • Framework: Select what framework you want to add a board to. You can also do this later.
  • Description: Add a description to a journey board.
  • Detail color: The detail color will be shown in the stages, as well as the board thumbnail in the framework. Colors can help you to visually group or distinguish boards from each other.

Step 3: Split up your boards into smaller parts: Board Stages.

After creating a basic structure for your journey framework with a few boards, you can break boards down even further by creating stages. Doing this help you to:

  • Break down your boards into parts that fit micro journeys. Boards might be defined broadly enough to fit macro journeys, but for micro journeys, we need to subdivide our boards into one more level of detail. For example, an ‘onboarding’ board can be subdivided further into ‘creating an account’, ‘payment’, and ‘first use’.
  • Compare stages. Every stage gets an associated experience score: the empathy graph. This score is the average score of all steps of all journeys that fall within a stage. Use this to compare performance between stages.

If the board was a parking area, see the stages as the individual parking spots you can use to park your journeys.

Rules of thumb for breaking up boards into stages

There are several rules of thumb to keep in mind when splitting up your boards into several stages. These rules can help you to create stages with a consistent format and level of detail across your framework:

  1. Subdivide a board into max. 8 stages: We recommend a maximum of 8 stages per board, in order to preserve overview and to keep the number of stages manageable. Ask yourself; if you would split up a board into a maximum of 8 smaller sub-chapters, what would they be about? If you end up with more, consider if you can merge stages, move stages to another board, or split up the journey board.
  2. Define one (detailed) customer job per stage: Each stage should result in your customer accomplishing one customer job or goal. This helps to make sure that your stages are based on the perspective of your customers. Ask yourself what the most important thing is that your customer is trying to accomplish in every stage. You can be a bit more specific or detailed with your customer jobs at this hierarchy level, as opposed to journey boards (see the example below).
  3. Define one (unbroken) process per stage: A stage should also describe a process that a person can complete in (nearly) one go, without any major breaks in their flow. That way your stages use the same scope as your micro journeys. By matching your stage scope to your (micro) journey scope, you make sure that your micro journeys fit them well. For more on micro journeys, read our guide on micro and macro journeys.
  4. Write from the first person: Similar to boards, try to use the format ‘I [customer job]’ For example; ‘I pay’, ‘I call the helpdesk’, etc. This is another way to make sure your stages are grounded in the perspective of your customers.
  5. Keep stages agnostic of channel, product, and products or services: Don’t create different stages for different channels, personas, or products. Instead, use channel lanes and journey tags to distinguish different variations of journeys.

For example, let’s consider a board called ‘I have a dinner party’. If we would split this up into stages, they can include ‘I invite friends’, ‘I order groceries’, ‘I cook a meal’, or ‘I do the dishes’. Notice how each of these stages follow the guidelines mentioned above; They are all processes you can be completed in one go, they all accomplish a single detailed customer job. You could create a separate micro journey for each of these stages, but also a macro journey that covers all of them.

Stage structure examples

Similar to boards, stages can be structured chronologically, but they don’t necessarily have to be. See them as clusters to which you can link multiple journeys. As examples:

  • Chronological stages: From left to right, some boards can be broken down into a timeline of before, during and after. For example in the ‘Onboarding’ board, the stages can be I Signup/Set up/Try/Reflect. 
  • Non-chronological stages: A board like ‘I manage my app’ could include the stages ‘I edit my profile’, ‘I review my usage statistics’, or ‘I change my preferences’. These all fit under the board, but don’t necessarily have to be experienced in any particular order. For such a board, the stages can be seen more as ‘clusters’ that group different (micro) journeys together. Notice that these stages also don’t have to be experienced by everyone; in this case, the board describes all the possible journeys someone might encounter when they manage their app.

If you’re creating a lifecycle from scratch, at this point you might find out you have to reshuffle stages between boards, rename boards, or split or merge them to arrive at a framework that makes sense. 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

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

When you are creating, moving, and reshuffling stages between boards, it can be helpful to have an overview of all the stages you’ve created and how they’re distributed among your boards.To view this:

  1. Go to the framework overview.
  2. Click on the ‘view’ button
  3. Select ‘show stages’ to show stages per board.

Step 4: Organize journeys using Board Lanes

While stages help you to add journeys at the right place in your framework, lanes help you organize different journey variations within those stages. That is helpful in two ways:

  • Organise multiple journeys per stage. You will often find that there might be multiple journeys that fit under one specific stage. For example, an ‘I pay’ stage might have an ‘online payment’ micro journey and an ‘offline payment’ micro journey that both fit within it. Lanes help to distinguish between these multiple variations of journeys, and allow you to organise them based on their respective channels, domains, areas, or more.
  • Compare performance between lanes. Every lane gets their own empathy graph, which gives the average score of all empathy scores for all journeys in a lane. So when you set up your lanes ask yourself; what lanes would be interesting to compare the performance of to one another?

As an example, consider a situation where you have a board called ‘I buy a product’ with a stage called ‘I pay’. You can imagine that a company can have several different journey variations when it comes to payment; an in-store payment journey and an online payment journey for example. In this case, you could create an ‘in-store’ lane and an ‘online’ lane to distinguish and compare these different journeys. The empathy graphs help you to compare the performance of the online and offline journeys to one another.

Within a lane, you can also add multiple rows of journeys. This comes in handy when you want to add multiple journeys to a stage within the same lane. It can also be used to add micro and macro journeys to a board within the same lane.

Lane structure examples

What lane structure works best for you depends on your business, or the comparisons you want to make. Some of the lane structures we often see used include:

  • Channels (e.g. Channel A vs. Channel B) help to look at different journeys based on different channels. For example, use them to organise and compare your online and offline journeys.
  • Service or products (e.g. Product A vs. Product B) help to compare journeys related to different products or services. Think of comparing budget vs. premium service plans. Think of a budget or premium airport experience; the stages in a lifecycle are similar between these experiences, but the journeys can be quite different.
  • Customer segmentation (e.g. SMB vs. Enterprise) help to compare variations of journeys related to different customer types, for example journeys related to SMB vs. Enterprise. 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. Area A vs. Area B) helps to compare localized variations of journeys, for when you want to compare the experience between different areas. Think of creating a lane for Europe, and another for America.

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.

Collapsing lanes

A handy tool to keep overview is to collapse lanes. When you collapse a lane, journey in that lane will be disregarded when creating the experience graph.

Step 5: Add journeys to your framework

Congratulations! Your framework is now ready, and it’s time to bring in the journeys. Since journeys exist in a separate repository, you can add the same journey to multiple boards, or even multiple times in the same board.

Adding journeys is often a good test to see if your framework covers everything, and if the detail level of your stages matches your (micro) journeys. 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. 

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 first. Are there any journey boards or stages where you know that improvements can be made? Start mapping journeys there.

Tip: We recommend not picking more than three new journeys to start out. ‘Completing’ your journey framework with journeys for every stage is an ongoing process: start where it’s most needed.

How to add journeys to a board

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.
  3. If you want to create a new journey, type the new journey name in the menu, and hit Add journey. You can also select if you want to create this new journey from a template or not.
  4. Your journey is automatically added to the stage you selected.

Journey cards

When you add a journey to a board, they are added as journey cards. Journey cards show you basic information about journeys at a glance, as explained in the visual.

The number of phases and the average experience per phase is represented using the colors on top of the journey card:

  • Green indicates a journey phase scores above 1.
  • Yellow indicates a journey phase scores between -1 and 1.
  • Red indicates a journey phase scores below -1.

This gives you a quick visual indication of how your journeys are performing, without having to open it. If you spot a journey with many red phases in it, that could be worth a further inspection.

Drag macro journeys across multiple board stages

After placing a journey, you can optionally drag it across multiple board stages. This helps you to map macro and micro journeys;

  • Micro journeys often describe processes in more detail within a specific stage.
  • Macro journey often describe processes from a higher level, and can overlap with multiple stages.

Tip: For more about macro and micro journeys and how to use them in a journey board, read our dedicated guide on macro and micro journeys.

How to drag journeys across stages

To drag journeys across stages, do the following:

  1. Using the purple side handles of a journey card, drag the right side of the journey to its end.
  2. TheyDo automatically snaps the phases of a journey to the stages.

Map journey phases to board stages

When you drag a journey across multiple stages, TheyDo automatically distributes your journey phases across the board stages the journey overlaps. However, you can also manually edit how journey phases are mapped across your board stages.

To manually map journey phases to your board stages:

  1. Hover over a journey
  2. Click on ‘map phases to stages’
  3. Using the arrows, move phases between the stages in a board.

Tip: We often see that clients create one macro journey per journey board that stretches across the full board, where the journey phases match the board stages.

Using the framework view as a reference

When you’re adding joureys to boards, it can help to have a visual reference of the other boards and the journeys they contain. To get this overview, go back to the ‘Framework’ level from the sidebar menu on the left, where you will see a visual representation of all your journeys and boards in one place. This helps you to quickly check if you have everything in place.

Step 6: Share and lock your framework

Once you set up your framework, it’s time to share. But before you do, 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

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.

Admins can lock and unlock boards. When a board is locked, nothing on the board can be changed.

To lock or unlock a board:

  1. Click on the three dots next to the board title
  2. Toggle between lock or unlock.


I already have a framework, how do I migrate it to TheyDo?

If you already have a framework, 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 to still follow the guidelines and rules of thumb mentioned in our article. 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? Use our guidelines to figure out the best way to do so. If you are still wondering how your existing framework might correspond to TheyDo, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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