How to Use Value Stream Mapping


Value stream mapping creates a visual representation of a production process to identify and eliminate waste and increase efficiency. According to, value stream mapping is a component of the Toyota Production System (TPS), which includes such popular lean manufacturing techniques as just-in-time, kanban and kaizen.


Establish the scope of your VSM activities and clearly define problems to be solved. Value stream mapping (VSM) can be used to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of any operational procedure, regardless of the scale. VSM techniques can be used to improve your entire organization’s production process or can be applied to individual processes, such as accounts payable processing or hiring procedures.

Assemble a functional team made up of employees who are actually involved in the processes to be mapped as well as managerial decision makers. Keep in mind that managers and supervisors may not have the most complete working knowledge of processes; it is beneficial to include front-line employees in your VSM team as well.

Create a map of all sub-processes involved in the value stream. Include information related to financial, technological and human resource requirements, as well as time requirements for each step and the time it takes products to move from one step to another.

Identify value-added and no-value-added activities along your value stream map. A value-added activity is one that directly changes the product and brings it closer to a state that is desirable to end customers. An example of a value-added step is an assembly line that is used to install steering columns in automobiles. Storing a semi-complete automobile frame for several hours before moving it to another assembly line is an example of a no-value-added activity.


Create a map of an ideal production process based on your current-state map. This future-state map should resemble your current-state map, but should eliminate all instances of no-value-added activities.

Remove steps in the process that involve storage, waiting, excessive paperwork, lengthy approval processes and the addition of features that are not desired by customers. The purpose of the future-state map is to outline a revised production process that eliminates waste, redundancy, lead times and defects.

Create a solution that will change your current production process to resemble your future-state value stream map. This can include physically changing work environments, machinery and technological infrastructure, as well as revising organizational structures such as hierarchies and team assignments.

Reconvene your VSM team on a regular basis to assess the improvements made by your revised production process. Begin the value stream mapping process again to solve new problems or to fit with changing organizational objectives.

Tips & Warnings

  • Include people who will be involved in revised production processes in your VSM team. According to, including functional employees in the decision-making process can increase buy-in and reduce confusion among front-line employees.
  • Remember that not all no-value-added activities can be feasibly eliminated. Certain activities may be required to satisfy government regulations, adhere with certifications or ensure worker safety.

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