What is Value Stream Mapping (VSM) – With example!

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a valuable step in the improvement process. Let’s use an example to show you how a Value Stream Map can streamline your process and help you attain your improvement goals.


What is a Value Stream Map/VSM?

In short, a Value Stream Map is a hugely simplified view of the manufacturing process. The primary goal is to determine the value-adding activities and the ways they come about. It’s a schematic representation of the value chain.


Click on the image to enlarge the VSM!

A Value Stream Map visualizes the company process as a circle, as can be seen in our example. The circle basically contains the following elements:

- The customer, top right, is the core of the circle.

- The suppliers, top left.

- The production process, on the bottom.


The manufacturing process is divided into two flows:

 - A mainstream. The mainstream visualizes the process flow, step by step, including all additional information that gives insight into the process: how many orders does it contain, what are the process and changeover times, what’s the minimum batch size, where are supplies stored, etc.

- An undercurrent. The undercurrent is the one that matters in the end. What adds value to the process? This implies that everything else does not add value, but in the end, the undercurrent cannot develop without the mainstream. The goal is to have the least amount of costs, hours, and people in the mainstream to let the undercurrent flow optimally.


What is the goal of Value Stream Mapping?

Value Stream Mapping helps to optimize the manufacturing process by enhancing value-adding activities and eliminating waste.

A Value Stream Map helps you:

  1. Determine the improvement potential. Once the process is charted, and all issues are visualized, concrete improvement goals and improvement activities can be determined.
  2. Calculate lead times. Once it’s clear what both the uptime (adding value) and downtime (waste) are in the process, you can calculate lead-time usage and reduce waste time.


How do you make a Value Stream Map?

It’s easy to make a Value Stream Map.

  1. Start using Post-its on a whiteboard.
  2. Provide a space for the supplier and a space for the client.
  3. Use green Post-its to indicate the value-adding processes and use red ones to show the way the process is being managed.
  4. Note the required process steps on the bottom.

Now, you can map the basis of the process, like in the example. Use our template to perform the mapping. 


The next step is the process quantification.

- Chart the supplies in-between the process steps: what is their value, how much time do they spend there, and what are the costs? 

- Add the figures: how many people are mixing, how many are sieving?

- What do we know about process data: how many changeovers occur, how many orders? 

-Use a line below the process steps to visualize uptime and downtime inside the process.


The provided insight of the Value Stream Map is a perfect basis for improvement. Download our template and start now!


Cierpa Software enables you to improve your organization continuously. LEAN manufacturing changes your work floor processes towards better and faster results and ultimately reduces any waste. With our LEAN software for companies, it’s possible to manage this ongoing process quickly and easily. Our Cierpa improvement consultants can also offer help.

Techniques and methods like 5S audit, Kaizen, OEE and the underlying LEAN thought principles are at the very core of our software suite. With Cierpa OEE, Cierpa Kaizen, Cierpa Quality, Cierpa Competence and Cierpa Assessment, Cierpa Software really speeds up all your improvement processes!

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What is Value Stream Mapping (VSM) – With example!