System map

System map

A system map is a concise representation that shows all the different actors involved in a service/system in one framework, along with all the relations that connect them to each other (e.g. material flows, energy, information economic resources, documents). The map highlights the elements and roles within a service/system as well as the connections between them, emphasizing the value of their interaction.

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Instructions for using the template

Premise. An effective system map is based on research data. Before proceeding with the compilation of the map, this data needs to be made easily available to the working group.

1. Indicate the project title. Indicate the mapping goal.

2. List the actors who might potentially be part of the system that needs to be visualized.Make a list of the primary and secondary actors: the user, the principal actors that provide the service, the partners, the secondary providers and all the institutional bodies and groups involved in a direct way. Each of them should be represented by an icon that also indicates its role and the main activity they perform within the system.

3. Define a legend with the actors’ icons, colours, and icons and/or symbols that represent the connections and relations.

4. Define the actors’ position on the map according to the priorities and levels of interest from the centre. The furthest from the centre still has a role in the system, but occupies a secondary level.

5. Identify the flows and relations that run between the actors, divided up on the basis of first and second levels. Represent them according to typology: e.g. economic flows, material flows, information flows. This allows the relations and connection with the whole system to be visualized. Identify the starting point for a sequence of flows; number them and describe them in a synthetic manner.

N.B. Grouping the actors together facilitates an understanding of the actors’ organization within their system. Using post-its to manage the position of groups, sub-groups and single actors helps the discussion and for the map construction to be an interactive process.

Download the manual for using the tool. Inside you’ll find an introduction, instructions for completing it independently, some practical tips, the template (A3 format) and an example of how to fill it out. Here you can also download only the template in A3 and A1 formats.

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