Process Net-Map is a version of Net-Map that focuses on mapping the consecutive steps of a process rather than the (more static) network connections between actors. It is especially useful for
- understanding the nitty-gritty of implementation processes,
- visualizing how the actual process might differ from formally prescribed procedures,
- where a process suffers due to concentration of power or overlapping responsibilities,
- and whether and where there are structural entry points for corruption and leakage.
How to use Process Net-Map?
Step 1: Ask interview partner to describe the process step-by-step.
Every time a new actor is mentioned, write the actor name on a card and put it on the map. Each step in the process is indicated by a link between actors. The link is numbered and a legend on the map describes the meaning of each number.
This procedure is continued until the final step in the implementation process is reached. This may be the distribution of inputs to the beneficiaries in a public procurement program, or the redeeming of the vouchers in a voucher-based program. The finished map can be rather complex (see picture 2).
Step 2: Setting up influence towers:
Interviewees are asked how influential different actors are in achieving the final goal of the process. Influence towers (made of checkers pieces and actor figurines) are set up next to the actor cards.
While doing this, the respondents are asked to explain why the respective actors have the assigned level of influence.
Step 3: Identify possible implementation hurdles:
The respondents are asked to identify where in the implementation process possible problems may occur. In this phase, the interviewers might emphasize that it is not the goal to identify problems that may have occurred in the study location, but rather to identify potential entry points for problems. To avoid conflicts of interest, the respondents are explicitly encouraged to consider problems they have observed in other locations rather than their own. The problem spots are marked on the map by drawing symbols or circles next to them, numbering them and adding explanations to the legend. In this step, you mostly identify specific actor positions, links or a combination of links that pose a structural problem. A typical example would be one actor who is involved in giving out contracts, giving out payment and quality control.
Step 4: Digitalizing the process map
We found that the best way to computerize the map is by drawing flow charts in Powerpoint (using text boxes and connectors). This allows to present the results in a way that reflects the step-by-step mapping approach used during the interview and allows the audience to follow its logic and main points without being overwhelmed (unfortunately, as long as paper doesn’t react to mouse-clicks, the print version of the map cannot take the reader on the same journey).
Click here to see how this Process Net-Map evolved step-by-step.
Raabe, K., Birner, R., Sekher, M., Gayathridevi, K. G., Shilpi, A., & Schiffer, E. (2010, forthcoming).
How to Overcome the Governance Challenges of Implementing India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme – Insights from Bihar Using Process-Influence-Mapping. Washington, DC: Discussion Paper; International Food Policy Research Institute.
Benefits of Process Mapping:
- The process narrative of the data collection mirrors the natural flow of a conversation (“First we do this, then that, etc.”), which makes it easy for both respondents and interviewers to use the format.
- Mapping / visualizing the process allows to see all consecutive steps at the same time. This helps to identify structural issues that would not be apparent by looking at steps one after the other.
- Focusing on structure makes it easier to talk about sensitive issues (corruption / leakage) in a less personalized way. For project planners and implementers eliminating structural incentives for corruption is crucial. Respondents tend to point at specific links or actor positions to locate where the problem is located.
- “The devil is in the detail.” And: “The best plan is only as effective as its implementation.” Process Net-Map helps opening up the black box of implementation.