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  • Gary Pine

Value Stream Mapping 101

Using flow charts, diagrams, and graphs, Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a process and tool used to visualise the flow of material and information within an organisation.

This helps to clearly demonstrate the steps involved in a production process for example, from the beginning to the end, from the raw materials to the finished product and all the steps between.

In a VSM, each step in the production process is represented by a symbol or icon, and the flow of materials and information are shown as boxes and arrows connecting the different steps.

The map also includes information about the time required for each step, the amount of inventory being held, and the number of resources being used, such as workforce, equipment, and materials.

VSM helps to identify waste by highlighting areas where resources, such as time, effort, and materials, are being used inefficiently.

By using VSM, businesses can identify areas of waste, such as:

Excess Inventory

Inventory that is held for longer than necessary adds cost to the production process without providing any value to the customer. VSM can help to identify areas where inventory is being overstocked and improvements can be made to reduce waste.

Unnecessary Steps

VSM can help to identify steps in the production process that add no value to the customer and can be eliminated, reducing the amount of time and effort required to produce the product or service.

Waiting Times

VSM can highlight areas where materials, information, or people are waiting, causing delays and inefficiencies in the production process.


VSM can identify areas where too much time or effort is being spent on a particular step in the production process, reducing overall efficiency and adding unnecessary costs.

By using VSM to identify waste, businesses can identify opportunities for improvement and prioritise changes that will have the greatest impact on reducing waste and improving performance.

The goal of VSM is to create a lean production process that delivers high-quality products or services to the customer with the minimum amount of waste and effort. It also helps to identify opportunities for improvement and collaboration throughout the value chain.

By using Value Stream Mapping, businesses can make informed decisions about their processes and prioritise changes that will have the greatest impact on improving performance and customer satisfaction.

Photo by Mech Mind on Unsplash

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