Value Stream Mapping

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Mar 26, 2020

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20 mins

This is the key concept which we will discuss in this blog. The key aspect of implementing any work is proper planning. Planning can be properly done only when you understand the requirement. Yes, in an IT industry requirement will be from the customer. So let us see how we can map the need of a customer while developing a product in every stage. 

What is it?

Map the need of a customer to streamline the process, this will add value to the development process and thus minimizes wastage. This process is called Value Stream Mapping in IT business. It is applicable to any kind of business. It is like a flowchart or a process map but with more value addition as it just not aim at making a plan but works towards eliminating the waste.  It is in short called a VSM.

It is a stepwise process visually represented across all stages of development. The diagrammatic representation of each workflow will let the process owner to monitor the progress and take corrective measures. 

This tool is easy to use and there are specific symbols available for each process and hence designing and monitoring becomes simple. However, before using any tool you can familiarise yourself with the symbols and make a quick plan by drawing a value stream mapping diagram with a pencil and paper. Later you can import that using software tools. 

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Why VSM?

  1. The entire process can be visually represented and hence on the whole picture the process can be easily witnessed. 
  2. It greatly helps for waste identification in the business process and hence all that does not add value to the process can be eliminated easily.
  3. Upon eliminating waste the improvement of the business process becomes straightforward which will prevent any further damage to the process. 
  4. With the help of the value stream mapping in all steps, you can individually correct any step without affecting the process flow in other parts of the business. 
  5. VSM being a group activity will allow the entire team to sit and discuss, identify and accept the need for improvement in their particular arena. 
  6. The team can quickly point out mistakes as it is a visual representation. The entire workflow is transparent. 
  7. VSM can be used in any industry and all you need to know are the symbols and get going with paper and pencil. 
  8. Every present state value stream will allow you to make a future state or ideal state and compare where there is a need to tweak the process to reduce wastage. 


In this section let us explain each symbol and its representation. You can see a truck image in the below table diagram which relates to shipping. There is one common symbol used for customers and suppliers. Let us go in detail to understand them. The table given below represents the symbol and its meaning. They are self-explanatory and grouped into four groups namely process, information, materials and general symbols. Don’t feel threatened, you will become familiar with symbols when you start using them in action. 


In general value stream mapping is also called flow mapping of both materials and information. It is used in lean management which will let the team analyze the current state and design a foolproof future state for developing the product by minimizing the wastage. 

There are certain identified symbols used to represent the VSM chart. You have seen the explanation of common symbols used in the above table. Now, relate the symbols with the diagram given below which will give you a fair idea about how and where to use the symbols. 

Different steps involved in value stream mapping

  1. Decision making – This is the first step. In this you need to decide where to start and end. Start from evaluating the customer need. 
  2. Steps definition – Define all the steps involved in your development process. This can include requirement gathering, designing, coding, testing, etc.
  3. Information flow – Describe the flow of information from each stakeholder in the team. Check who talks to whom, how often and for what. This will help to track the process and eliminate waste. 
  4. Data collection - Collect all data like time required, people involved in the work, systems used, and all details of resources involved in the process. 
  5. Stamp timelines – Decide on the timelines for each process by discussing it with the team. 
  6. Waste identification – Identify the waste at the time of shipping, inventory, over-processing, waiting, work redo, etc. 
  7. Create an ideal value stream map – Now, you can decide a workflow which can happen in an ideal scenario.

Keep doing this until you eliminate waste and improve your process. 

Value stream mapping and different fields

As mentioned already, VSM is not industry-specific and it can be used in any field as mentioned below and all it needs is the process item. 

  1. Administration – Unwanted steps can be identified for improving the service to internal customers. In office employees are the customers. 
  2. Healthcare – Identify the steps required to improve how patients can be treated to provide the best service. 
  3. Manufacturing – Find the wastage in the production process which involves the collection of raw materials, machinery use, resource time, etc.  
  4. Service Industry – Understand the unwanted activities carried out while serving customers and eliminate them to add value to the service and make it cost-effective. 
  5. Software Development – Check for the gaps in the entire development process including requirement gathering, planning, implementation and much more. 
  6. Supply Chain – Calculation of wastage involved during the transportation of finished products. 

Do you want to learn about value stream mapping with examples, then register for SAFe Agile Certification Online with us.

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