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Gathering Data for Value Stream Mapping

Say you’re in the process of creating a value stream map. As with any map, you can’t draw it until you’ve gathered all the relevant data.

Identify the baseline

So first, you gather the baseline data you’ll use to plan your process improvements. Data gathering is a three-step process:

  • you gather the data,
  • draw the shell of the map, and then
  • flesh out the information it contains.

Gathering data requires tools, which include a clipboard with each process listed, a stopwatch, a list of questions you can use to obtain relevant data, and — in some situations — a video camera.

Value stream mapping requires specific data — cycle times, changeover times, uptime, number of operators at each station, inventory amounts, batch sizes, working time, and defect rate.

Observe workers

To gather this data, you observe workers doing their jobs. You first watch those completing the last step in the process and work your way back to the start.

While watching workers, ask them questions about the process. They know the process better than anyone. For example, if you want to find out about information flows, ask workers how they’re informed about what to work on next, how often they receive a schedule, how they pass work on once it’s completed, and how they access new components.


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