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Value Stream Mapping - History, Types, Value Stream KPIs

19th Feb, 2024
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    Value Stream Mapping - History, Types, Value Stream KPIs

    By reducing waste like long wait times, mistakes, and bottlenecks in the flow of materials and information, the Lean methodology aims to increase the efficiency and performance of various business operations. The "Value Stream Mapping" technique is one tool one may utilize to reduce waste. 

    A visual representation of the movement of materials and information across the process is provided by value stream mapping. It aids in identifying, elucidating, eliminating, and ultimately creating efficient flow in all organizational processes. 

    All the value-added and non-value-added services required to create the assets are organized using value stream mapping. It consists of the steps necessary to get a product, starting with the raw ingredients and ending with the customer. 

    In this article, we will examine all the relevant details about the Value Stream Mapping examples ,tools that are for practical usage and application in any organization.  

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    What is Value Stream Mapping?

    Value stream mapping, often known as VSM, is a lean manufacturing approach used to evaluate, plan, and control the flow of materials and information necessary to deliver a product to a customer. It employs a set of standard symbols to represent different work streams and information flows and is also known as "material and information-flow mapping." 

    One may improve any process by repeating stages with value stream mapping. However, it works best when there are several handoffs. Because handoffs in production typically entail passing an actual item between stations, they are simpler to imagine. 

    Workers on the assembly line may see the actual pieces building up and clogging up a specific area of the line if, for instance, a problem occurs when constructing a car. After fixing the issue, they can restart the procedure by stopping the line. 

    Value stream mapping, often known as "visualizing" or "mapping" a process, has applications outside the assembly line. For example, lean value stream mapping has become more prevalent in knowledge work because it enhances team cooperation and communication. 

    Not the processes themselves but the handoffs (or wait times) between team members account for a large portion of waste in knowledge work. Poor handoffs result in low productivity and subpar quality. 

    Value stream mapping aids in waste detection and manufacturing process optimization. Applying value stream mapping to product and customer delivery processes is possible. Product flow focuses on the actions necessary to maximize the delivery and completion of products. The customer flow's primary focus is the actions required to fulfill the end user's demands and expectations. 

    Value stream mapping may apply to and enhance continuous delivery, which you probably already know if you're familiar with the concept. However, before getting into that subject, let's examine the advantages and disadvantages of using value stream mapping. 

    The History of Value Stream Mapping

    Though many sectors have just recently begun to use it, value stream mapping has been around for a long time. In the introduction to the book Learning to See, Mike Rother defines it as a small technique known within Toyota as "Material and Information Flow" mapping. However, the 1918 book Installing Efficiency Methods has examples of older iterations of this instrument. 

    Value stream mapping also grew in popularity as Lean manufacturing practices developed in America. Its popularity has spread to marketing, IT management, and software development. The phrase "value stream" was initially used in the 1990 book The Machine That Changed the World by James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos. 

    The authors' book, Lean Thinking, which further popularized the concept, was authored by them. They defined the value stream as the series of tasks a business does to fulfill a client request. 

    Due to their emphasis on eradicating waste, Lean and Six Sigma approaches are now linked with value stream mapping due to their focus on eliminating waste. 

    Types of Value Stream Mapping

    Value stream maps come in 3 different varieties. 

    1. Current 
    2. Ideal 
    3. Future 

    1. Current  

    A current state map outlines the fundamental processes used to produce something or provide a service, from taking a customer's order or request to returning it to them. 

    It depicts what is occurring now, not what should or may happen. Before attempting to develop maps of an ideal or future condition, fully comprehending the existing situation is crucial. 

    2. Ideal 

    The ideal stream map would depict the ideal world if there were no obstacles or hindrances in the way (the perfect process). Explore the criteria for the Ideal State. 

    3. Future 

    A future state map describes the top-level processes to develop the product or service. The map should show what the next six to twelve months will look like as you work toward the ideal situation. 

    The stream should be created first, followed by the ideal and future streams. The team frequently chooses a future state that is less aggressive or transformative if the ideal state is skipped. 

    Future state value stream maps offer a forecast for the direction in which the good or service will take the market, which directs all investment and choice-making. 

    The Benefits of Value Stream Mapping

    A value stream mapping format is intended to enhance the efficiency of the process. Value stream mapping records actual performance and demonstrates how end-to-end procedures increase efficiency. 

    Value stream mapping has several advantages, including: 

    1. Waste Identification - identifies non-value-adding activity; 
    2. Process Efficiency connects the flow of materials and information and calculates the cycle times, lead times, and talk times at each stage of the process; 
    3. Identification of the bottleneck reveals significant shortages (Resources Takt/Demand and Process Step Utilization 100%); 
    4. Improvement of cross-functional collaboration encompasses all interdepartmental stakeholders, including top management, middle management, the operations, administrative, sales, and logistics teams, as well as those participating in the different process phases; 
    5. Increasing consumer values that result in superior quality and more customer satisfaction (e.g., cutting expenses and eliminating waste); 
    6. Better Decision-Making: provides a comprehensive view of all processes, enabling decision-makers to base choices on reliable data and moral principles; 
    7. By eliminating waste, better future planning assists companies in creating highly efficient and inexpensive plans. 

    The Challenges of Value Stream Mapping

    Value Stream Mapping implementation in an organization is most difficult when VSM is improperly used. When this occurs, VSM may make it more difficult to identify waste and result in incorrect interpretations or assessments that might jeopardize the implementation of upcoming changes. 

    Another potential issue is unstable processes, which are practically hard to improve using VSM since there may be variances in how the process acts. In these cases, the approach may not always accurately describe the process. In order to prepare for VSM, it is crucial to standardize every procedure. 

    When used properly, VSM significantly improves the manufacturing process, but when used badly, it can lead to bad financial and technical decisions. 

    Here are some tips for avoiding typical pitfalls: 

    1. One should weigh the value stream mapping LOE (level of effort) and prospective value and savings fairly. Keep an eye on the return on your investment from the beginning. 
    2. Value stream mapping should be carried out by experienced individuals from the business and product sides because it may be a very complicated and cross-functional process. 
    3. Value stream mapping frequently causes feelings of fear and anxiety, making the task of detecting waste a challenge. 
    4. Savings will undoubtedly result from making minor improvements here and there. 
    5. However, until a thorough walkthrough is finished, it might not immediately translate to a bottom-line improvement. Taking tiny steps is frequently a terrific place to begin. 
    6. One should not rush into using expert charts, instruments, and symbols. Start by outlining the concept with a pencil sketch or on a whiteboard. After everything has died down, formalize the map suitably. Remember that your goal is to reduce trash rather than add to it.

    While value stream mapping is generally a good idea, going overboard with it might be harmful. 

    Why Do We Use Value Stream Mapping?

    Industries wanting to streamline their operations across all business activities can use value stream mapping. Handoffs may be visualized to improve flow, and provide savings. Expect your discussions to go longer without the imagery and fuzzy business results. 

    Value stream mapping is a powerful tool for driving continuous improvement. The continuous paradigm, in which constant delivery pipelines offer products to clients frequently, consistently, and sustainably, is at the core of the software development industry. Your clients will be satisfied if you can release at the pace of creativity! 

    Since productive teams are more engaged and enjoyable to work with, value stream mapping also helps to build team culture. Therefore, value stream mapping needs to be at the top of your single priority backlog, considering that culture, productivity, and savings are just a few of the rich returns. 

    A value stream map will help you identify areas for improvement by illustrating both the value-adding and wasteful processes in your business. Show each crucial stage in your operation and assess how it benefits your customer. This enables you to examine your process thoroughly and gives you accurate information on where the company should make improvements to enhance the way you work. 

    How Value Stream Mapping Identifies and Reduces Waste 

    Value Stream Mapping is a planning technique that depicts the present state (what is occurring now) and the ideal workflow that moves an item from beginning to end. It's vital to remember that a company may use a value stream map to find wastage along a complete process chain, from supplier to customer or from the beginning to the end. 

    Let’s look at what wastage is, its different forms, and how value stream mapping reduces it. 

    Any activity or step in a value stream sequence that does not provide value for the client is usually considered waste. Waste is any value stream procedure the consumer does not want to pay for. 

    There are seven different forms of waste creation in lean manufacturing. 

    1. Overproduction 

    The cause of many other types of waste is overproduction. Overproduction of manufactured goods results in further wastage due to irrational expenses such as excessive storage, wasted raw resources, and money locked up in worthless inventories. 

    2. Inventory  

    Inventory waste is the expense associated with conserving and holding excess inventory. This waste consists of the space needed for housing inventory, the rent for storage space, the cost of transportation, and the waste brought on by the degradation of stored goods. 

    3. Motion  

    The expense of every motion made by a human or machine may be decreased, known as motion waste. An excellent illustration of motion waste and optimization is the earlier example we gave with the forklift and supply location. Numerous inefficient outcomes of motion waste include pollution, fuel waste from moving vehicles, maintenance expenses, and costs associated with equipment failure. 

    4. Defects 

    Accidents sometimes occur, and they may cost a lot of money. Defect waste management is locating and minimizing mistakes and flaws that result in excellent finished goods. Defects are expensive because they have to be replaced, they can require further recycling, or they might result in a complete loss of raw resources. 

    5. Over-processing  

    Any stage in the manufacturing process that may be judged unnecessary is referred to as "over-processing waste." Examples include introducing functions that users didn't want or refining components of a product that a user might not be able to see. 

    6. Waiting 

    The expense of any sluggish manufacturing process step that results in a delayed response to the product is known as "waiting waste." Prolonged waiting results in increased lighting, heating, and cooling costs and the possibility of materials or contract expiration. 

    7. Transport 

    Motion waste and transport waste are incredibly comparable. When motion deals with internal movement within the same site, transport waste deals with outward transport movement between other locations or third-party partnerships. For us to comprehend how value stream mapping helps identify and reduce wastage, let's look at an example. 

    A software development company does not have to physically move raw materials from one warehouse to another to construct a final product. Instead, developing software involves turning concepts into real-world user experiences that benefit the user. 

    Value stream mapping examines the flow of "concept input" from sources, including customer support, sales requirements, and competition analysis. Then, it provides that as a value output to the end customer. Cross-team communication is the main focus of value stream mapping in software development. 

    A user requests a feature, product teams create the functionality, engineers take the design and create the software, and then the software is delivered to the end user. For example, a company might employ value stream management for software to locate waste between these steps. 

    By visually representing your value stream, you may more easily identify the activities that don't add value. For example, it can include all the steps required to create the product or complete the job. 

    A company may create waste by using work, materials, and time. However, it could also be connected to a lack of preparation and the misuse of particular skill sets. The real value is only contributed at each stage of manufacturing, and VSM aids in optimizing process steps and removing waste. 

    Value stream mapping is a fantastic tool for streamlining and improving your process cycle. Understanding waste in the product development chain is made easier through value stream mapping. In turn, this aids in your planning on how to decrease or get rid of the wastage. 

    The enterprise manufacturing sector is where value stream mapping first appeared. For example, consider an automotive plant, which requires raw resources to create new automobiles after receiving orders for them. The firm uses value stream mapping to describe the stages of making a new automobile. 

    After evaluating the automotive production stages, the corporation discovers a handoff stage in the development that seems unnecessary. A forklift is needed to transfer raw materials from one side of a warehouse to the production line at this handoff step. However, there are time and safety hazards associated with this change. Based on this realization, the business plans to permanently relocate the raw material storage facility next to the manufacturing line. This improves productivity and could do away with the need for forklifts completely! 

    The Value Stream Mapping Symbols

    How to Create a Value Stream Map (Steps with Description)

    1. Select the issue you want to address. 

    From the perspective of the consumer, what issue are you resolving? For example, do your consumers complain that the time it takes to deploy new features or product upgrades is excessive? Make the problem statement public to bring everyone together. 

    2. Encourage a good team. 

    Trust a knowledgeable, mature staff to handle these issues quickly and competently. In addition, the C-suite should allocate adequate funds to guarantee ongoing execution. 

    3. Limit the procedure 

    Once the problem statement is available, adjust the value stream mapping's scope. For example, you might want to concentrate on a specific area rather than map the entire release process. 

    4. Diagram the constrained process. 

    Review the binding process carefully. This can be important since secondhand accounts and third-party material that may be partial or erroneous cannot replace experience. 

    Lay down the steps. I repeatedly perform a value stream mapping analysis. Although it might seem repetitive, I have discovered missing elements in the second pass that was not visible in the first. And after further investigation, skeletons came tumbling out of the closet on the third (and last) pass! 

    5. Gather procedure data 

    When you do value stream mapping, take note of the process data in the map's boxes. 

    The number of workers involved, the specific number of working hours, cycle time, wait time, uptime, downtime, and other information are all included in the process data. 

    6. Make a timetable. 

    One should map out the process and lead times. 

    7. Examine your current map. 

    Be enquiring. Do your teams depend on one another on different levels? Do you have a too-long lead time? If so, is this due to the inability of your test suites to run in parallel? Do you have consistent environments, or do you occasionally get test failures that the teams cannot duplicate? 

    You can also have process stages that you consider essential but that the consumer doesn't understand. Be on the lookout for sluggishness and drag in the information flow. Please keep track of whether it was a push or a pull. 

    8. Create a future map. 

    It's acceptable if you cannot complete a full and final version. Ensure that your new map reflects the company's mission. 

    Additionally, nothing is definite. Make ongoing modifications based on client demands. 

    9. Put the future map into action. 

    Please verify that following the future value stream mapping makes more sense for the customers. 

    The first problem statement that you presented ought to have been resolved. Regularly check KPIs and take note of trends. Ensure that everyone is rowing toward the clients. 

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    The Application of Value Stream Mapping
    Application of Value Stream Mapping

    1. Manufacturing Value Stream Mapping 

    Since Toyota's 1993 "Toyota Production System" book made it widely known, manufacturing companies of all shapes and sizes have been utilizing Value Stream Mapping to pinpoint their shortcomings. Manufacturers can find inefficiencies and procedures that can be enhanced, boosting overall efficiency and production, by outlining every stage of the manufacturing system, from the supplier to the client.

    Manufacturing Value Stream Mapping

    2. Healthcare Value Stream Map 

    Cost and lead-time issues are ongoing problems for the healthcare industry. Since patient satisfaction greatly depends on wait times, any delays in a procedure might have disastrous effects. 

    For hospital management, increasing cost-effectiveness is crucial. 

    Consider that 48% of all hospital income comes from surgery. It is possible to identify inefficiencies in each sort of activity by creating a value stream map.

    Healthcare Value Stream Map

    Hospitals and clinics may spot any bottlenecks that develop between the time a patient enters the facility and the time that patient leaves by using an efficient value stream map. 

    3. Finance Value Stream Map 

    Leading financial institutions are figuring out how to cut waste and use new technological techniques to boost productivity and ultimately drive the business. 

    You may calculate the expenses of each activity, ascertain which sections are outperforming others, and pinpoint where unneeded costs are allocated by mapping out the various value streams of a financial institution. 

    The real value will come from implementing these discoveries and pairing expensive, repetitive operations with automation technologies. According to PwC, the most significant financial businesses have automated more than twice as many important controls as the typical firm. 

    4. Office Value Stream Map 

    Value stream mapping is a tool that offices may use to enhance overall business performance. 

    The truth is that many workplaces, whether they are small businesses or 10,000-person corporations, are slowed down by inefficient procedures, whether they be problems with interdepartmental communication, delays in onboarding, or poor use of office supplies. 

    And if any of these procedures are unsuccessful, they might have disastrous effects on worker productivity. For instance, projects are delayed as IT tries to repair a problem if a whole department is unable to access a piece of software that is essential for daily operations. 

    Businesses may use value stream mapping to pinpoint the processes that result in problems most frequently and take steps to fix them. It enables companies to examine every process that may be enhanced—or completely eliminated—by implementing new technologies. 

    Value stream mapping is not required for continuous delivery (CD), and it is viable to design and implement a CD pipeline without familiarity.  

    Key Tips for Value Stream Mapping

    1. Direct experience  

    The whole value stream should be followed by you (or your team). Don't base your decisions on feelings, conjectures, or discussions about how things "normally" go down. If it's something tangible, walk it, time your movements with a stopwatch, and feel it as directly as you can. The whole stream must be covered by at least one team member. You will lose a crucial viewpoint on VSM if you rely on subteams to walk certain sections and nobody walks the entire route. 

    2. Make a hand-drawn initial VSM.  

    Beginning with a pencil sketch, start writing down the stages. Later, you may improve communication and teamwork and plan out a future/ideal condition using chart-drawing software. 

    3. Start by doing a walkthrough. 

    Start by taking a little stroll to get a general sense of it, and then go back and explore it in further depth. 

    Try going backward from the finished good or service to where it came from. With such a perspective, several things may become more understandable and significant. This is how a lot of seasoned VSM practitioners operate. 

    4. Always ask why.  

    It is sometimes referred to as the "Five Whys" in Lean Six Sigma. Simply asking why things are done a certain way is the concept. Another why is posed in reaction to the answer. This keeps happening until you get all the way to the root cause of the activity. 


    Value stream mapping, when used correctly, promotes a continuous improvement culture that has been successfully applied to software engineering and operations. The value stream analysis results are illustrated on the map, which serves as a visual aid for better comprehension and communication. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are the 3 types of VSM? 

    Value stream maps come in 3 different varieties ( current, ideal, and future). 

    A current state map depicts what is occurring now, not what should or may happen. On the contrary, the ideal stream map would depict the ideal world if there were no obstacles or hindrances in the way, while the future state map describes the top-level processes to develop the product or service. The map should show what the next six to twelve months will look like as you work toward the ideal situation. 

    The stream should be created first, followed by the ideal and future streams.  

    2. How do you draw a VSM? 

    • Establish the scope of your value stream map. Start by mapping out the start and finish points in the upper left and right corners of your page 
    • Create a flowchart for your procedure. 
    • Add waiting times and inventory. 
    • Determine the direction in which information flows 
    • Make a timeline. 

    3. What are the steps of value stream mapping? 

    • Document the current map of your activities to track waste, inefficiencies, and any surplus inventories. 
    • Determine and record each process phase starting at the earliest level feasible, work your way up to the point when the consumer is fully happy. 
    • Following the listing of each stage in the procedure, take a close look at each one to identify those that benefit the client and those that do not. 
    • Find out what the ideal procedure would entail if you wanted to completely remove waste and offer a product that was 100% valuable. 
    • Determine the components of the existing procedure that prevent perfection. 
    • Find programs that can cut or get rid of waste. 
    • Assign duties and tasks. 

    These seven actions may help you greatly increase customer value, save expenses, remove waste, and enhance factory efficiency. 


    Rajesh Bhagia

    Blog Author

    Rajesh Bhagia is experienced campaigner in Lamp technologies and has 10 years of experience in Project Management. He has worked in Multinational companies and has handled small to very complex projects single-handedly. He started his career as Junior Programmer and has evolved in different positions including Project Manager of Projects in E-commerce Portals. Currently, he is handling one of the largest project in E-commerce Domain in MNC company which deals in nearly 9.5 million SKU's.

    In his role as Project Manager at MNC company, Rajesh fosters an environment of teamwork and ensures that strategy is clearly defined while overseeing performance and maintaining morale. His strong communication and client service skills enhance his process-driven management philosophy.

    Rajesh is a certified Zend Professional and has developed a flair for implementing PMP Knowledge Areas in daily work schedules. He has well understood the importance of these process and considers that using the knowledge Areas efficiently and correctly can turn projects to success. He also writes articles/blogs on Technology and Management

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