Value stream map

Use a value stream map to illustrate the flow of materials and information as a product or service moves through the value stream.

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A value stream is the collection of all activities, both value-added and non-value added, that generate a product or service required to meet customer needs. A current state value stream map identifies waste and helps you to envision an improved future state.
The current state map answers the following questions:
  • What does the actual process look like at the beginning of the project?
  • Where does the process start and where does it end?
  • How does value flow through the process?
  • What steps in the process add value and what steps do not add value?
  • What is the relationship between information flow and material flow?
  • What is the average cycle time through the process?
  • What level of inventory is held within the process and where is it located?
  • What are the sources of the waste in the value stream?
  • What areas of the process need the most improvement?
The future state map answers the following questions:
  • Where will you need supermarket pull systems to control upstream processes?
  • Where can you use continuous flow processing?
  • When will you schedule production?
  • How will you level the production mix?
  • How can you simplify or eliminate any steps in the process?
  • What does the actual process look like at the end of the project?
When to Use Purpose
Start of project Gather information to identify the steps and the related data that help you develop the current state map.
Mid-project Identify ideas for the future state map.
End of project Implement the future state so it becomes the current state.
Continuous As the future state becomes the current state, create a new future state map and implement a plan to achieve it.


Your data requirements must include complete knowledge of the existing process and customer demand, cycle and lead times, inventories, and the path and timing of information flows.


  • Begin the value stream mapping process with customer requirements. It is important to have a clear understanding of what value means to the customer.
  • Capture the process as it operates at this moment, not how it was originally designed to operate or how it should operate.
  • Assign a value stream map manager to lead the mapping effort.
  • Walk through the process to ensure that the flow of materials and information is accurate.
  • Focus on one small step at a time. You can use a stopwatch to obtain cycle times.
  • Identify critical paths and bottlenecks.
  • Create a future state map from the current state map. There will always be a future state map. This continuous improvement is a major focus of the value stream map.
  • If possible, limit the improvement plan to achieve the future state to a one page document.
  • Focus on individual areas to implement the improvement plan quickly. Update the future state map as you implement the plan.


Determine where the process starts and where it ends. When you walk the process to document the current state, note the wastes that help you create a future state map.
  1. Select a product family.
  2. (Optional) Create a project charter to gain management support and provide focus for the team.
  3. Select a value stream map manager to lead the mapping effort. The value stream map manager should draw the entire value stream map even if a team is involved in the project. This ensures that the manager understands the material and information flows.
  4. Identify the customers of the process (both internal and final).
  5. (Optional) Create a SIPOC that clearly defines the scope of the process and identify any issues that are observed in the process, the components that are outside the scope of the mapping effort, and the high-level benefits.
  6. Determine customer demands in terms of product and service quantity, quality, and delivery.
  7. Begin at the end of the process and work upstream to gather details about each step in the process, such as cycle time, inventory, machine uptime, distance to adjacent steps, defect information, changeover frequency, and changeover time.
  8. Create a current state map in the Workspace, possibly on a laptop as you walk the process.
  9. With the process documented, you can divide the value stream into logical subsections based on key internal outputs, skills, or operational locations.
  10. Create the future state map.
  11. Implement your plan to achieve the future state. A new current state emerges, along with the need to draw a new future state map in a cycle of continuous improvement.

For more information, go to Create a value stream map.

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