What are some Value Stream Mapping Best Practices?

Value Stream Mapping is a suitable process for a variety of industries from manufacturing through to professional services. Any industry that needs to understand, visualize and analyze the process of providing a product/service to a customer.  So what are the Value Stream Mapping best practices?  Here’s a list of a few things to keep in mind when designing your VSM:

Value Stream Mapping Needs To Be Clear

Clearly labelling and graphically illustrating each process within the business allows the users of information to visually see how each step along to the route from start to finish. There is a collection of symbols used in value stream mapping. These symbols vary from industry to industry with some businesses having their own individual designed symbols relevant to their business itself.  

Links between the value stream – the main path from start to finish – the operations that help the stream function and the communications between those operations have to be easily identifiable. Direct lines linking all these steps together can include the waiting time between each step, as well as the processing time on the separate operations to help identify the entire time length for a customer to receive the product, or service.

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Credit: Slidehunter

 Making a Value Stream Map Is Not Difficult

Although there is plenty of programs available to create a value stream map with minimum input, the simplest and most effective way is through pen, paper and post it notes.

It is necessary to compile all the different information needed to create the map up front so you have everything you need. Including other members of staff who are involved closely with each of the processes guarantees detailed, exact information providing an even clearer image of how the business runs.

Value Stream Mapping Relies on Data

Relevant data measures that can be included in a Stream Value Mapping are:

  • Inventory levels – sellable stock and ‘cushion stock’
  • Production times per product
  • Up-time such as on-demand machine consumption
  • Staff levels

  • Shifts worked

  • Net available working time – daily working time minus lunch and break times

  • Scrap rate
  • Batch Size

These data measures need to be up to date measures rather than ‘historical’ measures where possible. They must also include any timings or other system data that you use to save time. Once accurate measures are obtained they can be added to the Value Stream Mapping in ‘data boxes’.

One Methodology for Value Stream Mapping Best Practices – color-coded sticky notes

Value Stream Mapping Best Practices | Value Stream Map Post-Its

Credit: Wikimedia

Use chosen colored post it notes for the different workstations/individuals and the different communications. Place them out on a large sheet of paper or on a white board, starting with the first valuable step on the process to create a flow chart of boxes. Place the relevant information need at each step as well as connections between the flow of information and the relevant workstation.  Then all it takes is to use a pen and join up each step and information in the order it happens. Similar to a large dot-to-dot picture, a value stream map can then help you straightforwardly see the big picture.

Once all of this is completed, you are ready to step back and look at what improvements are needed to the process. You can compare different products and work out a better work schedule for different work stations in order to achieve optimum efficiency within the business.





Using VSM, Value Stream Mapping, correctly and regularly will continuously provide optimized processes and long term success.

Interested in finding out more?  Click HERE for more info from McDonald Consulting Group.