Let’s Get You Started
The ‘Welcome’ screen will be presented to you after your first login:
New - Click New to see the various templates we offer apart from a blank value stream. Select a blank value stream diagram or a template of your choice to get started.
Saved - Displays all of your saved diagrams.
Shared - Displays the diagrams shared with you.
Once you click New and select a blank value stream or a template,
- The canvas displays the Save Diagram as dialog box.
- Enter a name for your diagram and click Save.
You are in the VSM canvas now. We present the value stream layout with pre-loaded tools that you can use in the VSM canvas. Using these application icons/flow shapes/connectors, start mapping the value stream to create a picture that demonstrates the relationships between various domains, functions, and teams. Without further ado, let’s start mapping the value stream.
Do I Have to Keep Saving the Value Stream?
Nope. Your changes are automatically saved.
When you create a new diagram, you will be immediately prompted to save the diagram with a name. Can't think of a name to save it? Don't worry. You can skip this screen and jump right into mapping. If you happen to notice the right-bottom corner of the canvas, the diagram you are working on automatically gets a name — ‘Untitled Value Stream Diagram’ and of course, it’s already saved. So relax and focus on diagramming. Once you have finished, if you want to rename, just click on the text —‘Untitled Value Stream Diagram’ and enter a name of your choice. After you do, the new name will be displayed. Even if you log out of the canvas without renaming the diagram, don't fret about it. The next time you come in, the ‘Untitled Value Stream Diagram’ that you earlier worked on will be displayed in the Saved section and it will stay there under the same name until you rename it.
How To Map?
Include Applications Using Icon
Click the window icon to see a list of various applications. Find a couple of applications of interest and drag-and-drop them onto the canvas. The icons will be immediately adorned with blue boundaries, with a resize handle in each corner (of the boundary) to resize the icon. Double-click on an icon. A small dialogue box appears with various options. Here, you can provide a new name for your app icon, categorize it, and color the borders of the icon to differentiate it from the rest of the icons. And there are many other significant options to explore. In a dynamic value stream with lots of icons, images, and shapes, these options are going to make a huge difference.
Explore Flow Shapes and Flow Icons
Click on the Flow Shapes icon. Shapes can be used to annotate your VSM, denote a kaizen burst, and represent process phases like design, code, test, deploy, operate, etc...
Click on Flow Icons. Include these icons in your value stream to represent a process step, idea, or actor. To include, click and drag the required icon onto the canvas.
You can search for an Application Icon, or a Flow Icon or Flow Shape by entering text in all these menus. For example, enter the word 'phone' on the Flow Icons menu or the word 'test' in the applications menu and see what comes up. You can also upload icons of your choice. To do that, use the Upload Icons option inside the three vertical dots menu ( ) displayed on the right side of the canvas.
Let’s Connect Applications
Now, to connect two application icons,
- Hover over an application icon or a flow icon and place the cursor in the middle of an icon. You will see four blue points (link ports) appearing in the middle of the boundaries of the icon.
- Click-drag and draw a line (a connector) from one of the four link ports to another icon.
You just finished connecting two application icons. Wasn’t that easy? Congratulations! You are off to a great start with value stream mapping. Now you may want to add other applications and rearrange the canvas. Look through the list of application icons, pick an application of your choice, and continue the mapping you’ve started.
When you are creating a new value stream, note that the link ports (blue points) will be displayed. If you do not want the link ports to be visible, select the ‘Hide Link Ports’ option available inside the three vertical dots menu.
Use the Link Type Icons
Apart from the lines that you have drawn to connect the applications/icons, have a look at the options that are provided by clicking the ‘Link Type’ icon. This icon offers different styles of line connectors. You can use these connectors as well to connect the applications. You can drag-and-drop these onto the canvas, then move the end-point to connect the line to another object. The last link type you click on will be the shape of any new lines that you draw. (Some are more angular; others are curvier.)
Can I Group Applications?Oh yes, you certainly can! Several icons can be grouped so that you can move them around as a set. The idea here is to segment applications/icons/objects according to the various phases in your software development life cycle, various domains or functions, or even sub-value streams. Let’s learn how to group applications. There are two approaches to grouping:
- One approach is to start by drawing a boundary, convert it into a group, and build the value stream inside it.
- The other is to finish mapping your value stream, group the segments in the value stream by drawing boundaries where required, and then convert it into a group.
We discuss both these approaches below. Read on.
Create Groups and then Build a Value Stream
Click the flow shapes icon to pick one of the many flow shapes and drag it into the canvas to create a boundary/segment. (You can increase or decrease the size of this boundary.)
Double-click inside the boundary. A little dialog box that offers various options will appear. Using the options in the dialog box, provide a name to the group, color the boundary, and so on. You could even push the group to the background or bring it to the foreground. Try the various available options.
Click the icon (under the Group heading). You will get a message that confirms that the segment has been converted into a group. To ungroup, click the icon.
You can now add other icons to the group via drag-and-drop.
The group creation is complete.
Now try moving the created group by just clicking inside the boundary. You will be able to move the whole group (along with all the icons inside it) confirming that the group is created. So, that was the first approach. What if you have already mapped a value stream and you want to group certain icons/shapes/images according to various functions? Let’s learn how to create a group in that scenario.
Build a Value Stream and then Create Groups
- Finish mapping your value stream.
- Click the flow shapes icon to pick a shape, and draw the segments/boundaries around the value stream.
- As you now have a boundary/segment, double-click inside the boundary of the segment, and provide a name for the group using the dialog box. Using the options in the dialog box, if required, color the boundary of the group, and try the various options that are available. (While you are in there, going through those colors, check out the 'Transparent' color option.)
- Now, click the icon (under the Group heading). You will get a message that confirms that the segment has been converted into a group.
Now when you try to move this group, the boundary alone will move without the icons that you have included. This is because there is one final step that is required to seal the group. To finish grouping,
Move each icon/shape/image inside the group a couple pixels (in any direction), just a wee bit. The group is all set now. Now try moving the group. The whole set will move.
The group creation is complete.
Connected applications, grouped them. What's next?
Share a Value Stream
Before we learn how to share a diagram, here’s some important information. You will be able to share a diagram only with a registered user. You cannot share diagrams with people who have not registered as the live URL that is sent requires the user to log in and access the diagram.
To share a diagram,
- Click the three vertical dots menu and click Share. The Share Diagram dialog box will be displayed.
- Enter the email address of the user you want to share with. If you do not want the user to edit the diagram, click to select the Read-Only option. (When the other user opens the diagram, the word 'Read Only' will be prefixed to the diagram's name.)
- Click Share. You will receive a confirmation that an email has been sent to the user with a link.
The other user with whom you have shared just has to click on the link and the shared diagram will be displayed in the 'Shared' section of the welcome screen.
If you are wondering "how will I know if I have shared a diagram with another user?" We got you. When a diagram is shared with another user, the icon will be displayed against the diagram.
What Are the Other Options?
Is VSM only about creating and viewing it? Can I share a VSM, download it, and save it? We hear you. The VSM designer allows you to do all these actions and packs several essential options that you will need to use the VSM effectively. Click the three vertical dots menu on the right side.
- If you want to start a new diagram, click the + New option.
- To open a prior diagram, simply click on the Open option. A new dialog box will display the diagrams saved by you (inside the Saved section) and also the diagrams shared with you (inside the Shared section). Select the desired option, open the diagram you want, and proceed.
- In a normal scenario, you may want to share a diagram, download it, or upload an icon. There are options available inside the three vertical dots menu to achieve all these actions. Click the respective option and continue mapping.
- If you want to tie all the groups together and prevent accidental rearrangement, use the 'Lock Groups' option.
- After you upload an icon, click the icon. The icon you uploaded will be displayed under a new category — My Icons or My Applications depending on the option you chose while uploading.
- The Reload option is useful when you have shared a value stream with another user and both of you are working on it at the same time. Particularly, in such a scenario, click the Reload option to see the latest changes made by the other user and proceed to edit. Doing this helps you to avoid overwriting each other's changes.
Does the VSM Portal Offer Templates?
Oh yes. We do offer value stream templates that you can use as a foundation and build your diagram. All you need to do is browse through our template list, select a template that will be best suitable for you, and start modifying it. It is easy to modify our built-in templates and draw a diagram. Let’s learn how to use those templates.
- Click the three dots vertical menu and click + New. A new dialog box displays the templates that you can choose from.
- Scroll sideways to browse through the templates and click on the template you like.
- Enter a name in the Save Diagram As dialog box and click Save.
- Once saved and loaded, you can continue customizing as you’d like by adding icons/shapes of your choice, text, and more.
Note that this diagram is saved automatically. The next time you log into the vsm portal the last diagram you were working on will automatically be opened. To work on a different diagram, click Open (in the three vertical dots menu). Remember, you can always open, modify, and save as many templates as you want, and then decide which one fits the bill.