Value Stream Mapping software


Value Stream Mapping

What is Value Stream Mapping?

Value Stream Mapping is a lean method to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control

1) the flow of "the thing being transformed"

which could be inventory, a medical patient, paperwork,
or anything in any segment of any value chain

2) the information that controls the flow of the thing being transformed

Your team will use many popular value stream mapping tools

the most popular being the Value Stream Map

Purposes of Value Stream Mapping

  1. to graphically illustrate and analyze the flow of the thing being transformed
    and the information needed to process it — from the perspective of the end customer

    providing a holistic, inter-connected, birds-eye perspective of how value flows between many separately-managed teams that are often unaccustomed to looking at things from a perspective outside of their own territorial fiefdom.

  2. Compassto provide "True North" direction

    to strategically align the many small and large decisions
    made by many wide-spread teams

  3. to highlight problems and proposed countermeasures
    in simple, visual, and compelling ways

    that often cause previously skeptical team members to suddenly agree that "we really can't keep doing things the way we've been doing them"

  4. to quickly orient new hires

    to understand how their job affects and is affected by the many interconnected jobs downstream and upstream

  5. to serve as a value stream management dashboard

    to monitor and continuously improve
    the inter-related processes in your value stream

How to do Value Stream Mapping

Prepare your Launchpad

Who: Continuous Improvement Steering Committee, and Continuous Improvement Leadership Team

yellow brick road

Road map for a
typical lean journey

Value Stream Mapping is a team sport.

A value stream map created by one individual is worse than useless.

It will actually prove destructive to your future efforts to do it right.

Before your Value Stream Team ever starts mapping,

your Continuous Leadership Team
should have already done quite a lot of preparation,
following the steps described in Phase 1 of a Typical Lean Journey.

Assuming that all of this groundwork has been properly prepared...

your Value Stream Team should now be ready to begin fulfilling its Team Charter.

Map the Current State Value Stream

Who: Value Stream Team

SIPOC Diagram template

Describe Customers and key Suppliers

Use your Systems2win templates such as the SIPOC Diagram template,
or Voice of the Customer template...

but don't limit yourself to them

to describe everything that might be relevant
about the customers and suppliers for this value stream.

If a primary purpose of value stream mapping is
to analyze and improve the flow of the thing being transformed
from the perspective of your end customer...

then the place to start is to seek to better understand the perspective of your target customer, right?

Bookmark = scenario

Define the scenario to map

Caution: This is where a lot of Value Stream Teams go wrong

Your Current State Map should be for one very narrowly defined scenario,
even though the future state will almost always apply to a far broader range of scenarios.


Your Current State Map might narrowly focus on one type of request from one type of customer (or even just one specific customer) that might account for only perhaps 5-10% of demand served by this value stream

and yet the changes that you propose for your future state will often benefit many other (somewhat similar) types of requests from similar customers. (perhaps applying to 50-80% of demand)

If you personally don't have a lot of experience creating Current State Value Stream Maps...
please just trust us on this one.

Define one VERY specific scenario, and create a Current State Map for just that one scenario.

Optionally use the Exceptions text box on your value stream mapping template

As team members identify exceptions to the most common scenario, simply jot them down with a brief description in the Exceptions textbox. (and gracefully steer the conversation back on track)

Walk the gemba and interview workers

Gemba = the place where the actual work is done.

Process Observation template

A3 Gemba Interview template

Go there... with your entire team...

Don't split up into sub-groups.

The entire team should walk the gemba together, but divvy up assignments: e.g. Interviewer, documenter, timer, issues and ideas recorder, photographer, existing documentation gatherers...

Don't gather metrics yet.

Just go look, and listen.

REALLY look, and REALLY listen.

Using a Process Observation Worksheet and an A3 Interview questionnaire

Pretend that you are the thing being transformed — physically following its route through the process flow, and hand-writing your notes. (Do not bring a computer). Plan 20-30 minutes per Process. Don’t worry about precision at this point. The operator's educated guess is good enough. Ask the questions in the A3 Interview!!! Why is it being done this way? What ideas do the workers have?

Every member of your Value Stream Team is consciously attempting to observe the process with fresh eyes...

What’s done, by whom, in what sequence?

What barriers to flow are observed?

Even if the value stream you are mapping involves only paper and emails

Get out of the conference room, and go to the gemba where the people do the work.

Interview them. Look around the cubicles and computer screens with fresh eyes. LISTEN!!!

Map the flow of value

Back in your Team War Room (or whatever you call it)...

Create your Current State Value Stream Map,
using sticky notes on a roll of paper taped to a wall

Don't use an electronic value stream map yet.
It will just get in the way of team involvement and dialog.

If you already have an electronic map of this process
(because this isn't your first rodeo for this value stream)
then perhaps print it on large plotter paper, and use sticky notes (and maybe scissors) to edit it manually.

Choose lean metrics

Choose a mix of both:

  1. Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)
  2. Key Behavioral Indicators (KBI's)
Value Stream Mappng Power Tool template

This is when you will want to at least open a blank copy
of your Systems2win Value Stream Management Power Tool

and click the button to 'Hide/Show Rows' > Show Rows
to unhide the many rows of pre-defined lean metrics
that are available to choose from.

If this is the first time that this value stream has ever been mapped

then you will probably only gather only the extremely fundamental metrics
of 'Processing Time' and 'Lead Time'.

If this is an office or service process, then you should also measure 'Percent Complete and Accurate'.

And your team might (or might not) choose just one or two additional metrics that are particularly important to the success of this value stream.

If you are returning to a value stream that is a little further along on its lean journey

then this is when an experienced Facilitator can be worth her weight in gold

to introduce the team to metrics that might be very useful for managing this value stream,
beyond the extreme fundamental measures that were the focus of your earliest baby steps on your lean journey

In addition to your Value Stream Mapping Power Tool template,
also see the Lean Glossary for definitions, formulas, examples, and training videos for popular lean metrics.

An experienced team might choose to transcribe the Current State Map to electronic form now,

or at any time after this point,

but usually not.

Even if you are returning to improve a value stream that already has an electronic map,

the team will commonly start with a plotter size print-out of the most recent map,
and will then use sticky notes pasted onto that print-out

Usually, the team will keep adding hand-written sticky notes

waiting until the entire Value Stream Mapping Event is over (or almost over)
before transcribing the messy wallpaper to a clean electronic value stream map
that can then be easily stored, distributed, and socialized.

Walk the gemba again

When you walk the gemba the second time (usually on the same day)...

this time collect data for your chosen metrics

(including flow of the information that controls the flow of the thing being transformed)

and be very open to observing new insights.

Caution: Be sure to observe what you chose to map

Make sure that you are observing an example of your chosen scenario of your chosen type of request for your chosen type of customer for your chosen segment of the value stream for your chosen Product Family.

Caution: Here is another way that Value Stream Teams often go wrong

When you observe the Current State, you are observing a snapshot of that process.

Whatever you see is "the way that process was at that moment".

Don't try to fudge your observations with your past experience of "what usually happens".

No matter how embarrassing it might be... simply observe and document.

Remember, in a functional (as contrasted with a dysfunctional) Continuous Improvement Team, the focus is never to blame. The focus is always to improve poorly designed systems that prevent excellence.

Try not to divert everyone else's attention to your profuse apologies and explanations of how unusual this is. Allow every team member (including you) to stay sharp and focused on observing what is happening in this process in this moment in time.

Finish your Current State Value Stream Map

Back in your war room...

populate your (usually still hand drawn) Current State Value Stream Map
with the data that you observed for your chosen lean metrics.

Here is another moment when some experienced teams might choose to transcribe to an electronic map

but usually not.

Usually you will simply snap a photo of your messy wall,

and barely make it to the conference room in time for the Executive Briefing.

Conduct your Current State Briefing Meeting

PowerPoint Presentation of Results template

Use your 'PowerPoint Presentation of Results' template
(found in your Lean Management bundle of templates)

to present the Current State Value Stream Map
to the stakeholders that you invited to your Briefing Meetings

(the stakeholders that you identified on the Communication Plan page of your Change Management template)

Facilitate dialog to reach consensus that:

  1. Your Current State Value Stream Map accurately reflects reality, and
  2. You have chosen appropriate metrics to Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control your value stream

    (not just Define it)

  3. A3 ReportIf you are are also using your A3 Report template

    then there is consensus that the left side of the page
    contains an accurate summary of the problems and root causes currently plaguing this value stream

Usually, there are only a few small suggested changes

that your Team Leader and/or Facilitator can quickly change on your (usually still hand-written) map

Get approval for your proposed Future State(s)

Who: Value Stream Team

Allow Time to Think and Reflect

To optimize your chances of merging the schedules (and perhaps minimize travel time) for your many team members, it is not uncommon to schedule a 3-day Value Stream Mapping Event, with 3 intense back-to-back days together.

The down side of this approach is that it doesn't leave a lot of time to think, ponder, and reflect

so your team (and especially your leaders) should be prepared for a sleepless night.

And some good news is that there will be another round of improvement coming up in 6-12 months,
when you'll have another chance to bring up ideas that didn't percolate quickly enough overnight.

Start the Future State Kickoff

Your Change Agent congratulates the team for completing the Current State Map,
and expresses confidence that they will design a compelling and acheivable future state that meets the charter objectives.

Design your Future State Value Stream Map

Value Stream Mapping Design template
Value Stream Volume and Mix
Value Stream Mapping shared resources

First ensure that the "right work" is being done

before designing that work to flow between processes

As you repeatedly revisit each value stream as your lean journey progresses,
use your Systems2win Value Stream Mapping Design Guidelines templates,
and publish your printed answers to those questions
right on the same wall alongside your printed value stream maps and team charter
to continuously improve :

Plan for a 3-6 month horizon

There is no chance that any team will incorporate ALL of those design guidelines into their very first Future State Map.

Some teams might create 2 Future State Maps — for 3-6 months, and perhaps a more distant vision.

Use bursts to highlight problems

and clouds to highlight proposed countermeasures

Tool Selection Matrix

Use your Systems2win tools for Idea Expansion and Consensus Building

Your Tool Selection Matrix has a column to filter
for tools that are useful to expand your thinking.

When you are making decisions this far-reaching and important in the short time of a (typical 3-day) Value Stream Event, a skilled facilitator should be prepared to introduce the team to any one of the many different methods and tools for problem solving, and tools for decision making.

Conduct a Briefing Meeting

Use your Presentation of Results template
to present your proposed Future State Value Stream Map
to the stakeholders identified in your Change Management Planning template.

Obtain approvals.

Revise the Future State Map for feedback

This is the night when your Team Leader and Facilitator might not get much sleep.

Value Stream Mapping template

Although some leaders continue to make hand written changes on butcher paper,
this is the time when most leaders choose to transcribe their messy sticky notes
to their electronic value stream mapping template.

Whenever you transcribe sticky notes to your electronic value stream map,
always take the time with your team to compare and discuss differences
between the new electronic map and the original handwritten map.

This important step of transforming the free-style sticky notes
into a structured, mathematically-correct, standardized format
often surfaces additional considerations that might have been originally overlooked.

Get approval for your Value Stream Plan

Who: Value Stream Team

Create your Value Stream Transformation Plan

Value Stream Plan template

Use your Value Stream Plan template to define who will do what when.

Conduct a Briefing Meeting

Use your Presentation of Results template
to present your proposed Value Stream Implementation Plan
to your Executive Steering Committee and everyone else identified in your Change Management Planning template.

Obtain approval

Obtaining all necessary approvals  might require a few days

Complete scheduled periodic reviews

At the scheduled times and places specified in your Value Stream Plan,
conduct periodic review of your updates to your Value Stream Plan and Future State Map.

Socialize your Maps and Plans

Who: Value Stream Team

Conduct Grand Rounds

It's not enough to just send an (easily missed) email
announcing your new value stream maps and transformation plans.

This is far too important for that.

Socializing your maps and plans requires face-to-face presentation, with questions and answers.

The medical community has been doing "grand rounds" for decades,
as a field-proven effective way to propose and/or disseminate new ways of doing things.

Call it whatever you want, but do it. Adopt it. Adapt it.

Don't just present. Listen, and respond.

Value Stream Maps and Plans are not meant to be static. Be ready to honestly listen and respond.

Electronic is Better

If you haven't already converted your Value Stream Maps to electronic form earlier,

you will definitely want to use your value stream mapping template now.

(following our online instructions for how to use your value stream mapping template)

Cartoon - embarrassing deliverable

Advantages of electronic value stream maps

  1. People can read it
  2. The math is right
  3. You can email it
  4. You can archive it
  5. You can easily edit it as your maps and plans evolve

After all that hard work your team has done,
why embarrass yourself now?

Why would you present hard-to-read snapshots of messy hand written butcher paper?

You're representing the work of your entire team; not just you.
Why not make a professional impression?

Analyze, Stabilize, Standardize, and Visualize each process

Who: The Coach, and Process Improvement Learner or Team for each process

Here's the bad news...

After doing all that hard work to form your team, map the current state, map the future state, create your value stream plan, and socialize your hard work to get everyone to buy in and agree to help make it real...

You still haven't changed anything

To actually transform your real-world processes,

you need to complete the next phase of your Lean Journey

to Analyze, Stabilize, Visualize, and Standardize each process in your value stream


Construction note: The new version of the Value Stream Map was released the last week of January.

We are currently in the process of updating the training pages and videos to catch up with the new improved template.

Value Stream Mapping
Training & Demo Videos

Value Stream Mapping Videos

Also see online training for Value Stream Mapping

and How to use Excel as a drawing tool
without the cost and learning curve of Visio

Videos for the VSM PowerTool

As your gift when you attend a free webinar,
you get the trial version of the VSM-PowerTool
that has most lean metrics pre-programmed

Training found in the template

The Sample and Help worksheets of every template
always contain training relevant to THAT template

Additional VSM Training

Additional relevant training








Video Help

Introduction to
foundational concepts value stream mapping video


Value Stream Mapping Software value stream mapping video


Hide or Show Rows


Add or Remove a Process


Units of Measure value stream mapping video

Process Time and Cycle Time value stream mapping video

Lead Time value stream mapping video

How to use your VSM value stream mapping video
as a Dashboard for Control






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Use a value stream map
to answer the question

"Where should we focus our attention?"














You will find this sidebar menu on every training page related to value stream mapping

It will help you keep track of:

  1. What you have yet to learn
  2. How to quickly go back to review what you have already learned










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Use a value stream map
to answer the question

"Where should we focus our attention?"






Value Stream templates

The right tools to
Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control
your value stream maps

(not just draw them)






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You will find this sidebar menu on every training page related to value stream mapping

It will help you keep track of:

  1. What you have yet to learn
  2. How to quickly go back to review what you have already learned