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The Value Stream Mapping Process

Value stream mapping is a useful tool to check a process for inefficiencies — in much the same way a radiologist checks an X-ray for anomalies in the body.

Identify the product or service

You start the value stream mapping process by identifying the product or service you want to analyze — in other words, which product or service that will benefit most from processes improvements. You should also decide on the scope of the map.

It might help to consider which process has the highest number of defects, the highest product volume in either dollars or units, for example. You might also choose a product or service based on factors specific to its customers or destination.

Use for standardized processes

Value stream mapping is appropriate for routine or standardized processes and can be used in manufacturing and service environments.

In manufacturing, you can map static activities or tasks — such as attaching keypads. These tasks have relatively low labor content and few alternative flows exist.

In service industries, you work with four basic flows — people, processes, technology, and time. Mapping these flows can highlight interactions and management controls, and show how changes to one of the flows impacts the other three.