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B. Mapping Study

A key point on the journey towards a Management Information system is a Mapping Exercise. The Mapping Exercise ensures that questions that are being asked of provision can be answered, questions such as: What services are being offered? To whom? Where are the service duplications? What services are being provided against funding streams? Where is money being allocated? Where are the service gaps? In essence, the Mapping Exercise allows a local area to greater understand the provider landscape, what is being supplied and which client groups are being engaged.

The mapping exercise is a relatively low risk activity; it does not involve system development nor an exhaustive engagement process with either providers or clients. It is possible to ask questions of providers without necessarily committing them to anything more than the time and effort required to understand, complete and return a questionnaire or interview. The mapping exercise is often viewed within the context of a small one-off project albeit there is substantial management time to be factored in.

Creating the Mapping Exercise, involves thorough planning. Key project activities include sample identification, questionnaire design and development, selection of the research tool (telephone interview, paper-based survey, online survey or a combination), associated implementation tasks and report development. The complexity of this type of project usually necessitates the use of an external consultant. As a minimum, projects should be broken down as follows:

  • Questionnaire development;
  • Sample cleansing and survey collection process;
  • Data collation, coding and analysis;
  • Report development; and
  • Project management.

The mapping exercise is limited in the quality of the management information it provides: information is always to an extent incomplete as it relies on goodwill and the availability of key resources for its completion. Respondents may also refuse to fully complete some information, citing data protection issues for example. Some of the reasoning may be erroneous. Finally, the response is seldom checked for its veracity and relies on the recipient having the best information to hand, which is not always the case.

Having completed a Mapping Exercise you may wish to consider the next steps towards a more formal Management Information system should you have requirement for more frequent, higher quality data or you consider that the costs of repeating the exercise outweigh the benefits

Our mapping study told us we were focusing our services on those closer to the labour market, it also indicated that we would need much more sophisticated measures if we were to reposition our services on the hardest to reach.

Respondent, Area B