value stream mapping for Business Improvement

Value stream mapping is a lean-management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer. At toyota, it is known as “material and information flow mapping”.It can be applied to nearly any value chain

  1. Planning and preparation. Identify the target product family or service. Create a flow, define the problem, set the goals and objectives, and select the mapping team. Discuss the flow with the management team.
  2. Draw while on the shop floor a current state value stream map, which shows the current steps, delays, and information flows required to deliver the target product or service. This may be a production flow (raw materials to consumer) or a design flow (concept to launch). There are ‘standard’symbols for representing supply chain entities.
  3. Assess the current state value stream map in terms of creating Flow by eliminating waste.
  4. Draw a future state value stream map.
  5. Work toward the future state condition.


Value Stream Maps are usually drawn using a set of standard symbols, some of which can be seen here.

Value stream mapping has supporting methods that are often used in Lean environments to analyze and design flows at the system level (across multiple processes).

Although value stream mapping is often associated with manufacturing, it is also used in logistics, supply chain, service related industries, healthcare,Software development, and administrative and office processes.[9]

In a build-to-the-standard form, shigeo shingo suggests that the value-adding steps be drawn across the centre of the map and the non-value-adding steps be represented in vertical lines at right angles to the value stream. Thus, the activities become easily separated into the value stream, which is the focus of one type of attention, and the ‘waste’ steps, another type. He calls the value stream the process and the non-value streams the operations. The thinking here is that the non-value-adding steps are often preparatory or tidying up to the value-adding step and are closely associated with the person or machine/workstation that executes that value-adding step. Therefore, each vertical line is the ‘story’ of a person or workstation whilst the horizontal line represents the ‘story’ of the product being created.


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