What is value stream mapping?

Value steam mapping is a Lean method used for reducing waste, planning improvement activities, evaluating progress, and more. The Toyota Motor Company is credited with developing and implementing the original VSM template, a represent of materials and information flowing through the facility. The goal of creating a VSM is to look at the current state of operation and identify waste within the value stream. Addressing these wastes with increase productivity, optimize operations, and even improve quality

To create a value stream map, you just need a piece of paper and a pencil. Decide the scope of your map; will you be looking at the entire production line or just a specific process? You may even decide to instead narrow the scope of your VSM to focus on a specific product or family of products. Begin gathering information and talking with other departments, assembly line workers, frontline workers, and anyone else who may have relevant information.

Benefits of Value Stream Maps

Be thorough with your observations, noting things like wait times, motion, quantities, equipment reliability, and another high-value information. Many VSMs use a set of symbols to represent items in the process, like designated symbols for Kanban activities or specific arrows for the electronic flow of information. Adding contextual information will give you a clearer picture of any issues you may find and impact any improvement plans. Look for areas of waste in the value stream and identify any non-value-added activities. VSMs are used to aid in the removal or reduction of waste and increase of productivity by showing where you can develop “Leaner” operations.

If you create a value stream map to analyze your current processes, it is important to also draft a future state map. Ideal state maps are the ultimate goal for proves improvement and gives you a goal to work towards, set a deadline for your objectives and when the time comes, compare the ideal map you designed with the outcome of your improvement efforts.


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