Complete Value Stream Mapping Guide

Value stream mapping is used to analyze the current state and design a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer.

Value stream mapping helps you to see and understand the flow of material and information as a product or service makes its way through the value stream. Value stream mapping is one of commonly-used lean management skills. This passage "complete value stream mapping guide" helps you better understand value stream mapping.

The Definition of Value Stream Mapping

The Value Stream Mapping method (VSM) is a visualization tool oriented to the Toyota version of Lean Manufacturing (Toyota Production System). It helps to understand and streamline work processes using the tools and techniques of Lean Manufacturing. The goal of VSM is to identify, demonstrate and decrease waste in the process. Waste being any activity that does not add value to the final product, often used to demonstrate and decrease the amount of 'waste' in a manufacturing system. VSM can thus serve as a starting point to help management, engineers, production associates, schedulers, suppliers, and customers recognize waste and identify its causes. As a result, Value Stream Mapping is primarily a communication tool, but is also used as a strategic planning tool, and a change management tool.

Brief History of Value Stream Mapping

The use of waste removal to drive competitive advantage inside organizations was pioneered in the 1980s by Toyota's chief engineer, Taiichi Ohno, and sensei Shigeo Shingo and is oriented fundamentally to productivity rather than to quality. John Shook and Mike Rother co-authored the book Learning to See, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute. This book made material and information flow widely accessible and applicable outside of Toyota for the first time. Also, Peter Hines and Nick Rich have suggested the seven value stream mapping tools.

Value Stream Mapping vs Work Flow

Value stream mapping and work flow are two kinds of flowchart. They two might look similar at first glance, however, they are different. Value stream mapping differs from work flow in following four ways.

Value Stream Mapping and Work Flow Diagram

  1. It gathers and displays a far broader range of information than a typical work flow.
  2. It tends to be at a higher level (5-10 boxes) than many work flows.
  3. It tends to be used at a broader level, i.e. from receiving of raw material to delivery of finished goods.
  4. It tends to be used to identify where to focus future projects, subprojects, and/or kaizen events.

A Value Stream Mapping Example

The picture below is a value stream mapping drawn via the value stream mapping maker.

Value Stream Mapping Example

Value Stream Mapping Symbols

Value stream mapping maker provides you many useful value stream mapping symbols. Let me introduce you some frequently-used value stream mapping symbols.

Customer/Supplier icon represents the supplier when in the upper left, customer when in the upper right, the usual end point for materials.

Customer/Supplier Icon

Process icon: a process, operation, machine or department, through which material flows. It represents one department with a continuous, internal fixed flow.

Process Icon

Data table icon: it goes under other icons that have significant, information/data required for analyzing and observing the system.

Data Table

Workcell icon: it indicates that multiple processes are integrated in a manufacturing workcell.


Push arrow icon: it represents the "pushing" of material from one process to the next process.

Push Arrow

Steps to Draw a Value Stream Mapping

Although it is convenient to use value stream mapping for visually displaying the whole process, drawing value stream mapping by hand is kind of difficult. No worries, you can quicky and correctly draw a value stream mapping with the help of value stream mapping maker. Now, let me show you how to use value stream mapping maker to draw a value stream mapping step by step.

1. On the File menu, point to New, point to Business Diagram, and then click Value Stream Mapping.

First Step to Draw a Value Stream Mapping

2. You may select the value stream mapping shapes from library which is on the left of the canvas.

Select Value Stream Mapping Shapes

3. Drag and drop value stream mapping shapes onto the drawing page to represent your processes, information, and materials. Drag and drop connector shapes that indicate the flow of information and materials onto the drawing page too.

After you finish reading this passage, you will surely agree it is truly a complete guide for value stream mapping.

View Value Stream Mapping Examples

View Value Stream Mapping Symbols

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