Value Stream Mapping

Visual Representation of how Value flows through your system and identify metrics to inform improvement decisions.
Contributed by

Justin Holmes

Matt Takane

Edited by
Published September 12, 2017
Collection
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What Is Value Stream Mapping?

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a third generation lean process improvement techniques, optimized for an extended organizational transformation effort. It is designed to view the big, macro picture and make strategic decisions with executives. The first generation of this technique comes from Toyota's "information and material flow" (as documented in Lean Thinking and the second generation from Learning to See).

Why Do Value Stream Mapping?

In the context of software delivery, VSM is an excellent tools to holistically analyze and optimize "brownfield" delivery processes, including everything from requirements definition, infrastructure provisioning and application development.

Being derived from Lean Manufacturing, VSM visually represents the way value flows through an organization from the time a customer requests a good/service, until the time a customer receives the good/service. This practice can be particularly effective at:

  • Building shared understanding throughout the various levels of an organization on how value is actually provided
  • Creating the urgency for improvement
  • Formulating specific, data driven improvement plans
  • Preventing "improvement" work in a particular area that leads to sub-optimization for the entire value stream / process.

How to do Value Stream Mapping?

Facilitation Materials Needed

Some teams prefer whiteboards, but the most common approach uses paper and PostIts

  • Drawing paper roll.
  • Different colored wide format sticky notes like the 4x6 sticky notes
  • Markers for the PostIts
  • Charcoal pencil and eraser to draw lines between PostIts
  • For MBPM; chalk line can be useful, but not required

How does it fit?

VSM pairs particularly well with Metrics-Based Process Mapping (MBPM) practice. Used together, VSM represents flow of value through a system at a macro level and MBPM represents lower-level implementation steps and processes.

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