Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) provides blueprints for lean transformations. Consequently, it is a highly recommended element of the Lean QMS® Curriculum and part of the Lean BOS® philosophy. Pinnacle Enterprise Group (Pinnacle) will make and use them with your staff. Working with your operations as an example, you'll learn how to see value, differentiate value from waste, and eliminate the sources of waste by creating accurate current state and future state maps for one of your major product or service families. Mapping is a critical initial step in lean transformations because it shows you where to apply lean techniques for maximum effect. You'll avoid the common mistake of cherry-picking lean techniques, which leads to building isolated islands of improvement instead of reaping the biggest benefits by improving the entire flow of information, material, and product.

Pinnacle looks at the entire flow of a product or service family from order to raw material to customer, which is the flow we usually relate to lean manufacturing or Lean management and precisely the area where many have struggled to implement lean methods. We cover the "door-to-door" flow of information, material, and product/service inside your operation, including shipment to the customer and receiving supplied goods and material. Pinnacle then helps you design a future-state vision and start implementing it right away.

Read "Process Mapping & Process Redesign" article.

Why VSM is an Essential Tool

  • VSM helps you visualize more than just the single-process level (i.e. assembly, welding, order processing, admitting, etc.). You will see the whole flow.
  • VSM helps you see more than waste. You will see the sources of waste.
  • VSM provides a common language for talking about manufacturing, servicing, and management system processes.
  • VSM makes decisions about the flow apparent, so you can discuss them. Otherwise, many details and decisions about your management system and, in particular, on your production floor just happen by default.
  • VSM shows the linkage between the information flow and the material flow. No other tool does this.
  • VSM is much more useful than quantitative tools and layout diagrams that produce a tally of non-value-added steps, lead time, distance traveled, the amount of inventory, people, and so on. VSM is a qualitative tool by which you describe in detail how your facility should operate in order to create flow. Numbers are great for creating a sense of urgency or as before/after measures. VSM is good for describing what you are actually going to do to change those numbers.

Using the VSM Tool

Pinnacle uses VSM as an informal communication tool, a business planning tool, and a tool to manage your change process.

The following is a breakdown of the steps we use:

  1. Current State Value Stream Map

    Select a product or service family. Outline the Core Processes by mapping the existing material and information flows. Identify waste and establish elimination objectives. Create metrics for how to measure each objective using the following list of typical process metrics:

    • Cycle time
    • Changeover time
    • Production batch sizes
    • Number of product variations
    • Number of operators
    • Pack size
    • Working time (minus breaks)
    • Scrap rate
  2. Future State Value Stream Map

    Some of the waste in a value stream will be the result of the product's or service's design, the equipment already bought, and the remote location of some activities. These features of the current state probably can't be changed immediately. The first iteration of your "future state" map should take product designs, process technologies, and facility locations as a given and seek to remove all other sources of waste as quickly as possible. Our experience has shown that the following list of questions helps draw the future state map:

    • What is the takt time, based on the available working time of your downstream processes that are closest to the customer?
    • Where can you use continuous flow processing?
    • What is the pacemaker process that you will schedule?
    • Where will you need to introduce supermarket pull systems in order to control upstream processes?
    • Will you produce to a finished goods supermarket from which the customer pulls, or directly to customer order?
    • How will you level the production mix at the pacemaker process?
    • What increment of work will you consistently release and take away at the pacemaker process?
    • What process improvements will be necessary for the value stream to flow as your future state design specifies?

    The result is a chain of production or service provision where the individual processes are linked to their customers either by continuous flow or pull, and each process gets as close as possible to producing only what its customer needs when they need it.

  3. Implementation Plan

    Because a value stream map looks at the entire flow through your facility, as opposed to only individual processing areas, in most cases it is not possible to implement your entire future state concept at once. There is too much to do! So it is the value stream manager's responsibility to break implementation into steps. The most important point about the plan is not to think of it as implementing a series of techniques, but to see it as a series of connected flows for a family of products or services. Pinnacle divides the future state map into segments or "value stream loops" as described below:

    • Pacemaker Loop - the flow of material and information between your customer and your pacemaker process. This is the most downstream loop in your facility, and how you manage this loop impacts all the upstream processes in that value stream.
    • Additional Loops - upstream of the pacemaker loop there are material-flow and information-flow loops between pulls. That is, each pull-system supermarket in your value stream usually corresponds with the end of another loop.
  4. These loops are circled on the future state map to help you see the flow segments that make up your value stream. This is the best way to break your future-state implementation effort into manageable pieces. Then Pinnacle numbers the loops in the order of your implementation plan and places them on a familiar Gantt chart for project management and control.


Contact Pinnacle to learn more about Value Stream Mapping.