Top Value Stream Mapping Tools & Software
When offering a product or service, it’s important to inspect the entire production path from design to delivery. Value stream mapping is a crucial step in value stream management that provides an overview of workflows to see which activities add to detract from the value of the deliverable.
Value stream mapping (VSM) is the process of visualizing the people, processes, sites, and equipment involved in the stages of a production process. The point of VSM is to maximize value for the customer and reduce, if not eliminate, inefficiencies in the production process.
Value stream mapping can be done by hand with pen and paper, but it’s best to utilize value stream mapping software or a value stream management platform to generate and act on data-driven insights. VSM software helps managers visualize, evaluate, and optimize processes and tools used at every step of the production process toward the end user.
Read more at CIO Insight: What is Value Stream Mapping? Overview and Examples
Top Value Stream Mapping Software
Value stream mapping software and tools generally fall into one of two camps:
- Manual tools to assist with drawing the value map in a variety of contexts
- Automated, integrated platforms that map the software development process specifically in and for DevOps contexts
|Price in USD||Focus|
|Capstera||$499+ as one-time fee||basic, general|
|EDraw Max||$119 annually||general|
|Copado||$1,000+ per month||DevOps, CI/CD|
|JiraVSM||$3.75 per month or less||DevOps, time-sensitive processes|
Capstera for rudimentary mapping
Castera is a cloud-based business architecture and capability mapping software that enables companies to:
- model capabilities
- draft value streams and process
- define business motivation and strategy
- capture critical enterprise information
Capstera’s Enterprise Value Stream deliverable allows users to create value stream maps in stages and steps. This product is essentially a PowerPoint template that serves as a starting point to capture key processes of a typical enterprise. Users add more details as they fit in order to meet the unique needs of their organization.
The value stream map template features cross-enterprise critical flows and is contained within approximately 150 PowerPoint slides, rather than nested multi-layer process maps. So, for those looking for something more complex and sophisticated, Capstera’s Enterprise Value Stream deliverable may not be the best choice.
Mapping categories included in this digital document include:
- Enterprise Vision and Strategy
- Products and Services management
- Product manufacturing and distribution
- Products and Services sales and marketing
- Service delivery
- Customer management
- Human Resource management
- Information Technology enablement
- Accounting and Financial Resources
- Fixed Assets management
- Legal, Risk, and Compliance
- Stakeholder management
Capstera’s Enterprise Value Stream deliverable is meant to supplement and complement Capstera’s capability model which is available for purchase as well. While the capability model depicts the “what” of the value stream, the Enterprise Value Stream deliverable represents the “how.” Users may therefore get the most out of this product if they invest in Capstera’s Business Architecture Software platform.
Capstera explicitly states what its Enterprise Value Stream deliverable is NOT:
- Lean value streams focusing on identifying and eliminating waste
- Detailed process maps with swim lanes
- In line with Supplier, Inputs, Process, Output, Customer (SIPOC) standard
- Compatible with structured modeling language or notation, such as UML or BPMN
Learn about VSM’s role in lean project management: Understanding Lean Project Management
Pricing ranges from $499-$1,299. The Enterprise edition costs $499 and the consultancy editions costs $1,299
These two licensing options are nearly the same. Users pay only once, retain the deliverable forever, and are entitled to any new updates within 12 months of purchase. The main difference between these two licensing options is that the enterprise license is for a company’s internal use, while consultancy edition is for consulting services that use the deliverable for their clients.
Capstera does not allow interested buyers to see or sample deliverables beforehand. The website also states that it does not offer pre-sales support. However, Capstera offers post-sale consulting services for an additional charge. This vendor also does not accept returns or administer refunds, so the buyer must take a leap of faith when purchasing Capstera’s deliverable.
EdrawMax for user-friendly value stream mapping
EdrawMax by Wondershare is a diagram software that makes it simple to create professional-looking flowcharts, including values stream maps, on Windows, macOS, and Linux devices or online. EDraw features:
- 280+ types of diagrams
- 1,500+ templates
- Library containing over 26,000 symbols
Their website displays step-by-step instructions on how to make diagrams to show how user-friendly the interface is. They even have a searchable library, so prospective buyers can see whether Edraw has the diagram(s) they need before committing.
EDraw features a collection of value stream map templates, but for highly customized niche projects, users may start from scratch. The software enables easy value stream mapping with:
Advanced and user-friendly drawing techniques
- A set of themes to draw aesthetically pleasing diagrams
- Vector graphic files that are high clarity
- Automatic formatting tools to arrange, rotate, group, and align objects.
- Customization options to modify line width, line color, line style, font size, font style, text color, and much more.
- Field for adding images or to edit text
Edraw allows users to import and export diagrams between other programs, such as Microsoft Visio, making it a very versatile solution.
As the value stream map goes through iterations, Edraw backs up and encrypts the map and its previous versions to the cloud. Users can easily collaborate with others on a VSM via a shareable link. Once the map is complete, users can pivot to presentation mode within the software or export it to various formats.
EdrawMax is available as a free download, making it easy to test out its interface and features, but has limited functionality and limited access to features and resources. To gain access to extensive features, such as file backup and recovery, greater storage capacity, and more, check out their Team & Business license plans that start at $119 per year.
Lucidchart for versatile, data-infused mapping
Lucidchart is an intuitive, cloud-based visual workspace that supports diagramming, data visualization, and team collaboration on a variety of devices and operating systems. Lucidchart helps its customers create visual maps for a variety of use cases: sales, DevOps, operations, IT, and cloud architecture.
With Lucidchart’s centralized platform, users can draft up visual diagrams of current and future-state business processes, update them as needed, and easily share them with stakeholders.
Its interface features drag-and-drop to facilitate quick map drawing on templates. Add unique texts and images or import data directly from a CSV file. Users can also create custom shape libraries and templates to accelerate future value stream mapping projects that are designed for specific organizational needs. Lucidchart enables workflows to be animated with linked, up-to-date data from a CRM like Salesforce, for example, or with a workflow automation tool like Zapier. Users may also add conditional formatting to find value stream bottlenecks and easily track progress.
Lucidchart features collaboration tools, such as:
- Real-time co-authoring
- In-editor chat
- Shape-specific comments
- Collaborative cursors
Once the map is complete, it can be shared with stakeholders through a shareable link or live in presentation mode. Finished value stream maps live in one central location in Lucidchart, and administrators can grant editor or view-only access to different users.
The free plan allows:
- three editable documents
- 100 professional templates
- Basic collaboration tools, such as shareable links and embed codes
- Basic integrations, including Slack, Google Workspace, and more
Lucidchart’s individual plan starts at $7.95 includes everything the free plan has as well as:
- Unlimited number of editable documents
- 1,000+ professional templates
Lucidchart’s Team plan is for at least three people and starts at $9 per user. It builds on the individual plan with:
- Advanced collaboration tools, such as commenting, revision history, and password protected publishing
- Advanced integrations that include the above plus GitHub, Box, and Microsoft 365
- Administrative controls to automatically grant licenses and set account permissions
Lucidchart Enterprise pricing is not available. Interested buyers must contact Lucidchart directly for a quote. This top tier of Lucidchart features:
- Advanced administrative controls like domain restrictions and team folders
- Advanced data and automation
Capstera, Lucidchart, and EdrawMax are comparable solutions offering versatile, user-friendly mapping tools for a variety of needs. However, we recommend Lucidchart for prospective buyers who need value stream maps to be linked to real-time data.
Copado for the value stream in DevOps
As part of its DevOps platform, Copado offers a value stream mapping tool to help visualize each stage of the development lifecycle:
- Define & plan
By understanding how work flows, users can make strategic decisions about process improvement to remove bottlenecks and waste. In the DevOps context, waste is not material like it is in manufacturing. Rather, waste comes in the form of idle time or downtime.
Visualizing the value stream also helps DevOps teams effectively allocate resources to specific tasks based on priority and value.
VSM is included in Copado Enterprise and is available as an optional add-on with standard and professional editions of Copado.
While prospective buyers need to contact Copado directly to get pricing for Enterprise, Copado Standard costs $1,000 per month, and Copado is $2,000 per month.
Read more about Copado’s impact on DevOps performance and visibility at Enterprise Networking Planet: Copado: A DevOps Value Chain is Forged by Visibility
JiraVSM to identify time inefficiency in DevOps
As part of the Jira project management software, JiraVSM markets itself as a value stream mapping tool. However, users will find that its charts do not resemble the typical value stream maps. As such, we recommend JiraVSM for users who:
- Need to home in on the efficiency of time-sensitive business processes
- Focus on the people involved in business processes
- Already use Jira or other Atlassian products
Jira’s cloud-based value stream mapping tool helps users identify bottlenecks in the value stream by analyzing ticket status timelines. JiraVSM collects information from Jira, analyzes it, and generates multiple charts—not just one—to visualize efficiency and performance. This provides a 360-degree view of the process to ensure nothing gets overlooked.
JiraVSM allows users to:
- Quickly view the timeline of tickets in status and by assigned team member
- Identify the bottlenecks in time-sensitive business processes through multiple charts
- Calculate the time need to transition between statuses
- Calculate the wait time for pending tickets
- Calculate working time on tickets
JiraVSM costs at most only $3.75 per month for a team of 10 people. The monthly flat fee decreases based on the team size tier, for example, $0.38 for a team of 11-100 people.
This particular product in the Atlassian marketplace has not undergone the Security Assessment program, so it should not be used for business processes that involve the flow of highly sensitive information.
LinearB for automated VSM in software development
LinearB is a software engineering efficiency solution that correlates data across tools to identify bottlenecks and automate developer workflow optimization.
The value stream mapping tool in LinearB’s platform creates current state value maps by aggregating data from the Git repository as well as project, release, and incident management tools. It then provides a consolidated view of the value stream flow and the following metrics:
- Cycle time
- Code quality
- Investment profile
- Planning accuracy
It also keeps track of previous versions in order to monitor improvement in the software development lifecycle over time for ultimate pipeline observability.
LinearB not only automatically generates value maps but its automated WorkerB tool improves these key areas of the DevOps environment:
- Engineering efficiency
- Planning accuracy
- Pull request process
- Data integrity
- Code quality
In the area of code quality, for example, the WorkerB Bot automatically notifies developers about code that will need a significant amount of rework or about code that has been merged into the main branch with little or no review.
Comparing the VSM tools for DevOps: LinearB vs JiraVSM vs Copado
Among the VSM tools for DevOps in this list—Copado, JiraVSM, and LinearB—LinearB is the winner for this use case. Like JiraVSM, LinearB focuses on people within the value stream but with more context. For instance, it depicts health indicators for developers who have a lot of assigned tasks and are at risk of burning out. LinearB also has an edge on Jira by allowing for reporting configuration and viewing work across different projects. LinearB also beats Copado because it has built-in automation for viewing, analyzing, and improving the value stream.
LinearB is free for one team of up to eight people and includes:
- Up to 50 connected repositories
- 45 days of data retention
- Cloud-based Git integration
- Cloud-based project integration
- WorkerB for Slack and Microsoft Teams
- Observability Metrics
For up to five team of nine to 19 users, LinearB PRO costs $420 per year per contributor and includes all of the above plus these features:
- Up to 100 connected repositories
- Six months of data retention
- All additional features available in the free version above
- Plus “Team Goals” feature
Team Goals enables collaborative goal setting, custom notifications, and progress tracking by sprint, week, or month to ensure continuous improvement.
The LinearB Enterprise edition costs $600 per contributor per year and includes:
- Unlimited number of teams, contributors, and connected repos
- Three years of data retention
- All of the features available in the free and PRO editions
- Cloud and on-prem Git integration
- Cloud and on-prem project integration
- Project Delivery Tracker tool
- Deploy Metrics API
- Single Sign On (SSO)
Plutora for value stream management across teams and tools
Plutora is a value stream management solution for enterprise IT. It helps organizations to:
- Simplify building and managing CI/CD pipelines and DevOps toolchains
- Minimize overhead involved in managing complex toolchains
- Maximize value by providing visibility, traceability, and observability into the workflow
- Improve the speed and quality of software creation by capturing, visualizing, and analyzing critical indicators at every stage of the delivery process.
Plutora aggregates data across the toolchain and serves up insights about software delivery based on metrics, such as average lead time or average cycle time. These insights are presented visually to help DevOps managers evaluate the entire software delivery process for waste and constraints. They can also compare value stream maps between teams as well as historical value stream maps.
To address identified choke points, Plutora users can use its built-in performance and stability metrics to verify, evaluate, and automate future slowdowns that arise in the software development lifecycle.
Plutora does not offer value stream mapping as a separate tool. Rather, it’s built into Plutora’s platform. Because of Plutora’s multi-layered platform and its ability to handle a complex ecosystem of software development tools, Plutora’s platform is great for enterprises that need visibility over the end-to-end software development process.
Plutora does not display pricing information on its website. Interested buyers must contact Plutora directly.
Choosing the Right Value Stream Mapping Software
Value stream mapping is a necessary step in value stream management. It helps teams in manufacturing, DevOps, and project management achieve visibility from product or service ideation to delivery.
First consider the industry. A software development company will need a tool or platform to deliver value stream mapping capability for its particular setting. Plutora provides the most impressive set of features for this use case. But to get started simply, quickly, and cheaply, Lucidchart offers some boilerplate templates.
For general diagram mapping software that includes value stream mapping, we love Lucidchart and EdrawMax for their variety of templates, degree of customization, and user-friendly interfaces. Capstera provides templates as well, but it may be difficult to assess its suitability beforehand, unless you’ve already committed to its Business Architecture Software platform.
Read next: Best SaaS for Project Management