Lean Definition

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Identification of all the specific activities occurring along a value stream for a product or product family. It is a lean manufacturing technique used to analyse the flow of materials and information currently required to bring a product or service to a consumer. At Toyota, where the technique originated it is known as “material and information flow mapping”. It can be used in any process that needs an improvement.


Identify the target product, product family or service.

Draw 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). They are standard symbols for representing supply chain entities.

Access the current state value stream map in terms of creating flow by eliminating waste.

Draw a future state value stream map

Work towards the future state condition

Where is it used

Value stream mapping is a helpful method that can be used in Lean environments to identify opportunities for improvement in lead time. Although value stream mapping is often associated with manufacturing, it is also used in logistics, supply chain, service related industries, healthcare, software development and product development. In a build-to the-standard from Shigeo Shingo suggest that the value –adding steps be drawn across the centre of the map and the non-value-adding steps are 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 stream the operations. The thinking here is that the non-value-adding steps are often preparatory or tidying up to the value-adding steps and are closely associated with the person or machine/ workstations that execute that value-adding steps. Therefore each vertical line is the story of a person or workstation whilst the horizontal line represents the “story” of the product being created. The goal is to create a map, with minimum delay, while observing the target process in the situation. Thus, value stream maps are usually drawn by hand in pencil to keep the mapping process simple and allow for simple correction.

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