Tips and tricks to get started quickly with WebSphere Business Compass


WebSphere Business Compass V7 (hereafter referred to as Compass), announced in December 2009 as a replacement for WebSphere Business Modeler Publishing Server, also offers a set of web-based editors for creating strategy, capability, organization and process maps. It includes numerous high-value features for business users looking to articulate their ideas visually. Most of these are well-documented in the Information Center, FAQs, and other places. However, this article highlights some of the lesser known and sometimes missed features that will make creating artifacts a snap!


If you’re a visual learner, the instructional videos are perfect for you! Available from the Getting Started widget, the videos focus on each of the main editors in Compass. You can watch how to create maps, and then go ahead and do it yourself. Sorry, popcorn is not included!

Export to PowerPoint

Putting together a presentation to share the maps with a manager, an executive sponsor or even colleagues is a common task. Presentations have become the status quo in sharing information, and Compass makes it easy to do that. You can export to Microsoft® PowerPoint® either as a poster or as a report to get detailed information for your map. The report format includes an overview image of the map, single-page images of map sections, and descriptive details about the map and its elements. Alternatively, you can export as a poster to generate a set of slides that can be assembled together to form a single view of a large map. The poster format includes a single-page overview of the map, which you can use as a guide for assembling the map sections that appear on separate slides.

Document relationships

You've probably found that many of your documents are related to each other in some way. For example, a vocabulary may contain a role that is the performer of a task in a specific process map, or an organization map might include a department responsible for a particular capability in a capability map. Managing and remembering these relationships could be cumbersome, but the Compass document network browser takes care of it for you. The relationship between documents is referred to as a document network, and the document network browser visually renders the connections between documents in your repository. To see the connections for a specific document, select it from the Documents view, then select the Network Browser button under View, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Open network browser
Open network                     browser
Open network browser

(See a larger version of Figure 1.)

The network browser opens, displaying the connections from the selected document to other documents. By default, only outgoing connections from the selected document are shown. To show both incoming and outgoing connections, select Incoming and Outgoing Connections, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Select Incoming and Outgoing Connections
Select Incoming and                     Outgoing Connections
Select Incoming and Outgoing Connections

(See a larger version of Figure 2.)

Strategy map features

Following are some hints for working with strategy maps.

Keyboard shortcuts for the Outline view

The Outline view is a list view of the visual elements on your canvas. The following keyboard shortcuts will help you quickly edit the list:

  • Add a new sibling element: Select an element in the Outline view and click Enter.
  • Move an element a level down in the hierarchy: Select the element to become the child element and click Tab.
  • Move an element a level up in the hierarchy: Select the child and enter Shift-Tab.

And of course, you can always use drag and drop in the Outline view, too.

Synchronous update

While you work in the Outline view, the Diagram view is updated simultaneously. This saves you time, because you can work in whichever view--Outline or Diagram---is easiest for you without having to worry about updating both views.

Cut and paste

Authoring business documents often begins with pulling in information from a variety of sources. Spreadsheets, documents, and sometimes even diagrams serve as input for your maps. Compass makes pulling together this informat a snap to do! You can cut and paste a list of items from a Microsoft Word® or Microsoft PowerPoint document into the Outline view to rapidly create multiple elements in your strategy map. After all of the elements in your list have been created, you can assign different element types to each one.

Capability map features

Following are some hints for working with capability maps.

Quickstart template

They say life is like a blank canvas, but your capability map doesn’t have to be! Our development team figured that if you open the editor it's because you're interested in creating a capability map, so we've taken the liberty of starting one for you. Now you don't have to spend time creating new capability nodes, you can just focus on updating the names of the existing ones. Moreover, you can just copy and paste nodes to quickly build your map.

Breadcrumb trail for step-by-step navigation

Capability maps can be many layers deep to reflect the depth of your organization. For example, administration capabilities may be divided into a series of capabilities such as executive support and operations support. When you get a few levels down, it's easy to forget where you started, or what the previous level was called. The breadcrumb trail keeps track for you! Located at the top of the capability map canvas in grey, the breadcrumb trail is a series of hyperlinks to each level in the diagram. You can quickly hop up to another level simply by clicking on one of the links in the breadcrumb trail.

Organization map features

Following are some hints for working with organization maps.

Roles view

Organization maps visually describe the structure of working relationships within and across organizations. They're a great way to get insight into how people are organized into departments or units and roles. Since roles are at the core of organization maps, Compass has a dedicated Roles view that enables you to quickly search, define and associate roles while creating your organization map.

The Roles view itself can be docked in the bottom lefthand side of the editor. Alternatively, if you want to work with it in a different location, simply undock it by clicking the undock icon in the top right corner of the view. Now, you can freely move it around the editor and place it where it's convenient for you to work.

Figure 3. Undocking the Roles view
Undocking the                     Roles view

Reuse in strategy and process maps

An organization map is only as useful as it is reusable; that is, after modeling the organization, you want to be able to assign organization units and roles to strategy elements, capabilities and process tasks. The common document model between the Compass editors enables you to do this assignment quickly and easily. For example, you can assign roles within your defined organization to tasks in a process map. Alternatively, if you're working on a strategy map and aren't sure of the specific role that will be responsible to implement a given strategy element, you may choose to associate an organization unit instead.

Figure 4. Assigning roles and organizations to tasks
Assigning roles and                     organizations to tasks
Assigning roles and organizations to tasks

In both the strategy and process maps, you can see the associated resource in the Details view, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Associated resources in Details view
Associated resources                     in Details view
Associated resources in Details view

If you're working on process maps only, you can also view your process in swimlanes by organization units. That way, when sharing the maps with colleagues and SMEs for review, everyone can be on the same page, and can see both the resources and the assigned work.

Figure 6. Process in swimlanes
Process in                     swimlanes
Process in swimlanes

(See a larger version of Figure 6.)

Process map features

Following are some hints for working with process maps.

Expand for a detailed palette

Don't you just hate clutter? We know! That's why the toolbar has the most commonly used features accessible all the time, and can be expanded to show the detailed palette when you need it. For example, when sketching a process, you might just want to use a bunch of generic tasks. Later, when you’re ready to refine the model, you can expand the detailed palette and specifically use a user or service task. To switch between the simple palette and the detailed palette, click downarrowon the palette header and choose the palette that you want to use, as shown in Figures 7 and 8.

Figure 7. Select palette to use
Select                     palette to use
Select palette to use
Figure 8. Selected palette
Selected                     palette
Selected palette


All right, so you're in a meeting brainstorming a new process with colleagues and you want to capture the high level tasks quickly. For this working style, it's helpful to be able to quickly enter a series of terms or thoughts, rather than having to create nodes on the canvas for each element. The QuickAdd function supports this exact interaction pattern. With the QuickAdd function you can create several tasks rapidly, by pasting a list of tasks into QuickAdd. Alternatively you can type directly into the QuickAdd dialog. If you selected an element on the canvas, your new tasks will be automatically connected to the selected element. Otherwise, your new tasks are added to the canvas connected to each other in the order that you entered them, but not connected to any element that is already in the process map.

Figure 9. QuickAdd function
QuickAdd                     function
QuickAdd function

Downloadable resources

Related topics


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ArticleTitle=Tips and tricks to get started quickly with WebSphere Business Compass