Data Mapping

What do we mean by data mapping?

When undertaking service redesign it is important to fully understand the service currently being delivered.  This will support further exploration of the service pathways and patterns and will support the application of tools later in the project (e.g. process mapping, user journeys).

Data refers to both quantitative and qualitative information.  Quantitative data can include information on:

  • the number of people who are eligible for and access a service
  • how they came to access your service
  • what they do in the service and for how long
  • how they leave a service

Qualitative data can include:

  • how users of your service felt before, during and after accessing your service
  • user feedback on any part of their experience
  • user or other stakeholder feedback on the impact of someone accessing your service

Why is this important?

In building an improvement or design team there is an emphasis on drawing from a range of disciplines and perspectives. 

Project team members will have their own insights, experience and data to share. And in turn these will support a broader understanding of the reach and impact of the service you are examining.  Users of a service and other external stakeholders will not necessarily have the service data you hold. And conversely, services may not have the qualitative data held by users and other stakeholders.

Our work in the New Models for Learning Disability Day Support Collaborative highlighted the importance of addressing this.  To ensure team members had a common foundation of knowledge of the day support services, project teams were asked to complete a Data Mapping Template, which posed a number of key questions that would support teams and members to collaborate and arrive at a common level of knowledge for day support services.

You can view the template we developed for learning disability day support services here:

Designing data mapping for your services

Initial data mapping for your service will be contextual to the service you are examining.  It is important to consider information your project team members need to know to support a performing and functioning team.  As a foundation, you may wish to consider the following:

  • What led you to undertake this design project
  • What you know about the users of your service 
    • How many
    • When users access services, how frequently and for how long
    • Inequality dimensions, e.g. protected characteristics or other inequalities that users experience
  • The experiences of users of your service
  • Policy and strategy (local and/or national) that has driven the design of the service
  • Evidence reviews, e.g. of alternative or innovative models

Common challenges

Our work in the New Models for Learning Disability Collaborative identified a number of common challenges in carrying out initial data mapping.  These include:

  • Data not disaggregated - difficulties in breaking it down meaningfully
  • Data not easily accessible, including:
    • Siloed data, only accessible to a select few
    • Inconsistences in how data is stored (e.g. paper vs electronic systems, limitations in access for some)
    • Inability to draw down data in a meaningful way
  • Difficulties in keeping certain data up to date, e.g. community opportunities/community mapping
  • Data on user groups who are unable to or have ceased to access a service, and reasons for doing so
  • Frustrations in securing all intended data

It is important to consider the above challenges in building a data mapping template and to later note how these challenges might be impacting on user experience.

Where there are challenges in securing a foundation level of data this should, in turn, lead to improvements in data collection as your project progresses.