How long does a customer journey map take to make?

This week a colleague rushed up asking how long it would take to produce a journey map and the answer was … it depends.

But first, what is a journey map?


A journey map is a model of a person’s experience over time with an organisation. They can describe a service experience of an existing customer, such as a support call or they can describe the sales experience of a new customer. The latter usually conforming to some version or other of the purchasing funnel. For the purposes of this post I am discussing current-state and not future-state journey maps.

Who and what is represented in journey maps?

A journey map can be the story of a specific persona or it can depict the generalised experience of all customers. Adaptive Path makes this distinction and labels the former a customer journey map, and the later an experience map.

Then there is the “stage” to consider. The front-stage shows the customer experience and the back-stage presents the corresponding experience of the organisation – the teams, systems and processes that combine to deliver the experience. This kind of journey is usually described as a service blueprint.

So … how long does a journey take to make?

To plan resources, people, and effort you need to think about the content and the data that’s informing it. This can come from workshops, co-design sessions, or through customer and staff research. Guidelines and considerations for each of these follow.

Guidelines for planning

Journey generation method: Half-day workshop

  • Inputs:
    • Anecdotal knowledge
    • Channel and other operational data
  • Who you’ll need:
    • Subject matter experts, product owners, front line staff as proxies for customers. 1-2 facilitators.
  • Time:
    • Half-day (excluding workshop design and planning)
  • Considerations:
    • Usually output as high-level post-it notes.
    • Add 2 days to make a legible and shareable electronic or print deliverable.
  • Cost:
    • $
  • Trade-off:
    • Minimal time and cost at the expense of the customer voice.

Journey generation method: Workshop

  • Inputs:
    • Existing research
    • Voice of customer data
  • Who you’ll need:
    • Subject matter experts, staff, product owners. 1-2  facilitators.
  • Time:
    • 1-2 weeks
  • Considerations:
    • Invest time in sourcing past research reports.
    • Voice of customer data from different sources needs time to collate into a consistent form for comparison and analysis.
    • No data of external factors (personal network, competitors) and just interactions with your organisation makes for a one-sided story. Customers are more motivated to give feedback when something has gone wrong; the resulting journey may be disproportionately negative and may miss all the positive forces that made them customers in the first place.
  • Cost:
    • $$
  • Trade-off:
    • Minimal time and cost. Depending on quality of research and data journey can be fragmented with no context for wider story or experience

Journey generation method: Journey co-design workshops

  • Inputs:
    • Research participants for their recounted experience.
    • Example touch points.
  • Who you’ll need:
    • Customers who have recently or are currently going through the experience.
    • A facilitator and note taker.
  • Time:
    • Like any research dependant on segmentation and expected outputs but approximately 2-4 weeks.
    • 1-2 weeks to recruit participants. Approximately 1-2 weeks of co-design workshops.
  • Considerations
    • Allow more time if your segmentation requires more participants to get a representative sample.
    • Time to synthesise what you learn into insights and onto the journey itself. 3 days – 1 week.
    • You may opt to run modified Delphi sessions where each subsequent co-design session builds on and edits the previous one–so you are essentially always working on the one map.
    • Add 3-5 days to make a legible and shareable electronic or print deliverable.
  • Cost:
    • $$$
  • Trade-off:
    • Customer data represented but highly dependent on recall. Detail of real time customer experience e.g. with a specific touchpoint or episode may be lost.

Journey generation method: JTBD switch interviews with customers

  • Inputs:
    • Research participants to recount their experience.
  • Who you’ll need:
    • Customers who have very recently switched to your product or away you’re your product to a competitor.
    • One researcher. Note taker optional.
  • Time:
    • 3-5 weeks
  • Considerations:
    • 1-2 weeks to recruit participants.
    • Allow more time in recruitment to get the exact customers you need. 1-2 weeks of research depending on the number of participants in your study. Synthesis is streamlined with JTBD Four Forces diagram and customer timelines. May be an appropriate research technique to support agile teams in iterative rounds of discovery or development. Applicable to a buying journey only.
  • Cost:
    • $$$
  • Trade-off:
    • Customer data represented but dependent on recall. Skilled interviewer should be able to elicit detail of real time customer experience of a specific touchpoint or episode.

Journey generation method: Contextual interviews and/or longitudinal diary studies with customers

  • Inputs:
    • Recounted or directly observed experience.
  • Qualitative insights.
    • Can dig deep into quite low level detail and describe context of use of example touch points.
  • Who you’ll need:
    • Customers who have recently or are currently going through the experience.
    • A representative sample for each customer segment.
    • A team of researchers. 2-4 depending on the number of customers.
  • Time
    • 8-12 weeks
  • Considerations:
    • Worthy investment for strategic projects where understanding of the problem space is needed.
    • Resource intensive approach to follow-up with participants.
    • Compelling when paired with quantitative research to size findings.
  • Cost
    • $$$$$
  • Trade-off:
    • Requires large investment and results are not actionable for some time but end result is credible research report usable by both executive and operational teams.


As with anything, there are trade offs involved. A well researched and high detailed journey will certainly stand the test of time, be useful to multiple audiences, and be a persuasive research piece to support change. It all depends on your project needs and constraints. The 80/20 rule may also apply—making smaller investments with Jobs-to-be-Done research or co-design workshops may yield most of the major insights you need to uncover for significantly less cost and time.

Thanks to Krispian Emert for feeback on early drafts of this post.





One response to “How long does a customer journey map take to make?”

  1. Great overview to start understanding different sizes of journey mapping.

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