top of page

Unlocking the Power of Value Stream Mapping: Transforming Business Processes for Optimal Performance

Allan Ung

Unlocking the Power of Value Stream Mapping: Transforming Business Processes for Optimal Performance

In today's fast-paced business environment, organizations face many challenges, including intra-organizational conflict, operational waste, and disconnects in how work gets done. To address these issues and achieve outstanding performance, organizations need to implement effective methodologies to visualize and resolve these problems. Value Stream Mapping is a proven approach that enables organizations to identify and eliminate inefficiencies, redundancies, and gaps in their processes.

However, it is important to note that value stream mapping may not be suitable for every situation. For example, if an organization is not interested in optimizing its processes or is content with the status quo, a VSM exercise may not be necessary. Additionally, if an organization lacks the necessary resources or commitment from management to support the VSM exercise, it may not be able to achieve the desired results. Therefore, organizations should carefully evaluate their needs and readiness before embarking on a value stream mapping exercise.

Common Failings with Value Stream Mapping

According to Martin et al., there are several common failings with value stream mapping, which are as follows:

1. Using the mapping process solely as a work design exercise

Value stream mapping should not be used only as a work design exercise. It should be a tool for understanding the flow of material and information and identifying opportunities for improvement. If the focus is only on work design, the opportunity to identify improvements across the entire value stream may be missed.

2. Using the map to make tactical improvements

Tactical improvements can be made based on value stream mapping, but this should not be the only focus. Value stream mapping is meant to identify both tactical and strategic improvements. If the focus is solely on tactical improvements, the potential for significant process improvements may be missed.

3. Creating value stream maps during a kaizen event

Creating value stream maps during a kaizen event can lead to limited participation and an incomplete understanding of the process. Additionally, the focus may shift to tactical improvements instead of a broader analysis of the value stream.

4. Creating maps but taking no action

Creating a value stream map without taking any action based on the findings is a waste of time and resources. The purpose of value stream mapping is to identify areas for improvement and make changes to improve the process. If no action is taken, the mapping exercise becomes meaningless.

5. Mapping with an inappropriate team--or no team at all

Value stream mapping requires a cross-functional team with representatives from all areas of the process. If the team is not representative or is missing critical players, the map may be incomplete or inaccurate. Alternatively, if no team is involved, the map may not be grounded in reality, and the potential for improvement may be missed.

6. Creating maps with no metrics

Without metrics, it is impossible to measure the impact of changes or improvements. Metrics are essential to measure the success of any improvement project. Without metrics, there is no way to determine if the changes have been successful or not.

Value Stream Mapping is not just a tool to eliminate waste but a highly effective means to transform leadership thinking, define strategy and priorities, and create customer-centric workflows. It provides a structured way to analyze processes, identify waste, and create solutions to improve efficiency and productivity.

The benefits of Value Stream Mapping are many, including improving quality, reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction, and promoting collaboration among teams. In this blog, we will discuss in detail the four phases of the Value Stream Mapping process, including how to identify a product or service family, document the current state, design the future state, and create an implementation plan. Additionally, we will provide practical tips and the critical success factors to help organizations successfully implement Value Stream Mapping in their business operations.

The Four Phases of Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping Process

Phase 1: Define Product/Service Family

The first phase of value stream mapping involves defining the product or service family that you will be mapping. This could be a single product or service or a group of related products or services. It's essential to identify the scope of the value stream and the boundaries of the process you want to improve.

The value stream mapping charter is a critical document for this phase. The charter outlines the objectives, scope, and expected outcomes of the mapping activity. The charter also helps to identify the key stakeholders, team members, and resources required for the project.

The value stream walk is another important activity in this phase. It involves physically walking the process to identify waste, observe the process flow, and gather data.

Phase 2: Document Current State

In the second phase of value stream mapping, you will document the current state of the value stream. This involves mapping out the current process flow, identifying the value-added and non-value-added activities, and collecting data on cycle time, lead time, and other metrics.

Value Stream Mapping: Documenting the Current State

Value Stream Mapping: Documenting the Current State

The rules of engagement for value stream mapping activities need to be established at the beginning of this phase. These rules define the scope of the project, the roles and responsibilities of the team members, and the data collection methodology.

The mapping process involves several steps, including labeling the map, defining process blocks, identifying IT systems, and adding data. The output of this phase is the current state value stream map.

Phase 3: Design Future State

The third phase of value stream mapping involves designing the future state of the value stream. This is where you identify opportunities to eliminate waste, improve the flow, and optimize the process. The goal is to create a leaner, more efficient value stream that delivers more value to the customer.

The design considerations for the future state include the use of lean techniques and tools, generating and testing ideas, and conducting kaizen events. The output of this phase is the future state value stream map, which shows the optimized process flow and the projected results.

Phase 4: Create Implementation Plan

The final phase of value stream mapping is to create an implementation plan for the future state. This involves defining the tasks required to implement the changes, prioritizing the tasks using a prioritization matrix, and creating an implementation plan with timelines and milestones.

Tracking the results of the implementation plan is critical to ensure that the improvements are sustained and to identify further opportunities for improvement. Continuous improvements are an integral part of the VSM process, and organizations should be prepared to revisit the value stream mapping periodically to identify new waste and optimize the process further.

Practical Tips for Value Stream Mapping

Practical tips for Value Stream Mapping include using the current state map only as a foundation for the future state map. This ensures that the future state map represents the concept of what you are trying to achieve. It is important to have the future state map facilitated by someone with deep lean expertise. The purpose of mapping is action, so it's important not to develop any map before its time. Someone with management clout has to lead, and it's crucial not to just plan and do, but also to check and act.

Key Factors for Success

Critical success factors for Value Stream Mapping include management commitment and support. It is important to involve employees who will be impacted by the changes and provide regular project updates to senior management and the project team. It's essential to aim for initial quick successes, celebrate achievements, and recognize the team. Remember, lean is a journey, and it's crucial to continuously monitor and improve the value stream map to achieve long-term success.


In conclusion, while value stream mapping is a powerful tool that can help organizations visualize their processes, identify and eliminate waste, and create a more efficient workflow, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for every situation.

Common failings of value stream mapping include situations where an organization is not interested in optimizing its processes or lacks the necessary resources or commitment from management to support the VSM exercise.

The four phases of value stream mapping - defining the product or service family, documenting the current state, designing the future state, and creating an implementation plan - are essential for a successful VSM exercise.

Some practical tips to keep in mind include using the current state map only as a foundation for the future state map, ensuring that someone with deep lean expertise facilitates the future state map, and using the maps to drive action.

Critical success factors include management commitment and support, involving employees who will be impacted by the changes, aiming for initial quick successes, celebrating achievements and recognizing the team, and understanding that Lean is a journey.

By following these guidelines, organizations can harness the power of value stream mapping to transform their processes and achieve outstanding performance.

Allan Ung

Article by Allan Ung, Principal Consultant at Operational Excellence Consulting, a distinguished management consultancy based in Singapore. Our firm specializes in maximizing customer value and minimizing waste through the strategic adoption of Design Thinking and Lean management practices. For further details, please visit 


Related presentations that you might be interested:


bottom of page