Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value Stream Mapping


Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a visual and analytical tool used in Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to analyze, design, and improve the flow of materials, information, and activities within a process or value stream. Developed as part of the Lean Production model, VSM provides a comprehensive view of the entire process, enabling organizations to identify inefficiencies, eliminate waste, and optimize operations.

Key Concepts and Principles

  1. Value Stream: A value stream represents the series of steps and activities required to deliver a specific product or service to a customer. It encompasses all actions that add value to the product or service.
  2. Mapping: VSM is a visual representation of the value stream, typically created using standardized symbols and notations. It provides a clear and detailed depiction of how materials and information flow through the process.
  3. Current State and Future State: Value Stream Mapping includes two main phases. The first phase involves mapping the current state, identifying existing problems and bottlenecks. The second phase focuses on designing the future state, where improvements are made to create a more efficient and value-driven process.
  4. Waste Identification: VSM helps identify and categorize different types of waste, such as overproduction, waiting, excessive inventory, unnecessary transportation, defects, underutilized employees, and more.

The Process of Value Stream Mapping

  1. Select the Value Stream: Choose a specific value stream or process to analyze. This could be a product’s journey from raw materials to the customer, a service delivery process, or any workflow that adds value to the customer.
  2. Current State Mapping: Create a visual representation of the current state of the selected value stream. Document every step, material flow, information flow, and relevant data, highlighting areas of waste and inefficiency.
  3. Identify Opportunities for Improvement: Analyze the current state map to identify bottlenecks, redundancies, and waste. Prioritize areas for improvement that will have the most significant impact on value delivery and customer satisfaction.
  4. Design the Future State: Develop a new value stream map that represents the desired future state. In this phase, improvements are made to eliminate waste, streamline processes, and optimize resource utilization.
  5. Implementation: Implement the changes outlined in the future state map, continuously monitoring and measuring performance to ensure improvements are achieved.
  6. Continuous Improvement: VSM is an iterative process. Organizations should periodically revisit and update the value stream map to identify new opportunities for improvement and drive ongoing enhancements.

Applications of Value Stream Mapping

  1. Manufacturing: VSM is widely used in manufacturing to analyze and improve production processes, reduce lead times, and enhance overall efficiency.
  2. Service Sector: It is applied in various service industries, such as healthcare and financial services, to optimize service delivery and customer experiences.
  3. Supply Chain Management: VSM is used to analyze and optimize supply chain operations, reducing inventory levels, transportation costs, and lead times.
  4. Product Development: In product development, VSM helps streamline the process, reduce time to market, and enhance collaboration among teams.
  5. Administrative Processes: VSM is applied to streamline administrative and support processes, improving efficiency and reducing errors in tasks like order processing and procurement.


Value Stream Mapping is a powerful tool for organizations seeking to streamline processes, reduce waste, and enhance the flow of materials and information. By providing a visual representation of the entire value stream and categorizing various types of waste, VSM helps organizations identify opportunities for improvement and design more efficient future states. This iterative approach is integral to Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, enabling organizations to continually drive process optimization and deliver greater value to their customers.