Value stream mapping is a tool often used in lean manufacturing for mapping the information and material flows within an organization.  It’s become a popular tool as it helps organizations see bottlenecks and problems within their processes, and often forms one of the fundamental stepping stones in a company’s lean continuous improvement plan.


Although VSM (value stream mapping) is  not overtly complex to carry out (for most business process improvement professionals who have some familiarity with process mapping tools) for others some training will no doubt be required. 


There are lots of organizations offering value stream mapping training – but if you have an experienced “champion” in the organization you may wish to consider carrying out a value stream mapping training session yourselves.


If you choose to run your own training sessions we’d recommend that the training be broken down into 4 sections –split over a couple of days – we’d suggest a suitable course should include:


1/ Value stream mapping familiarity

2/ Hands on mapping of existing business process

3/ Improvement activity – brainstorm areas of waste

4/ Build future state value stream map


What you’ll need to carry out the training


1/ Suitable venue

2/ Plenty of large sheets of paper to draw sample maps

3/ Pre-cut photocopied common value stream mapping icons

3/ Marker Pens

4/ Post it notes



1/ Value stream mapping familiarity


Any Value stream mapping training should include breaking down the value stream map into its constituent parts – providing explanation around the key elements of a VSM. 


This should include:-


a/ Value stream mapping principles

b/ Value stream mapping icons

c/ Mapping information flows – types of information etc

d/ Mapping material flows

e/ Types of data required


2/ Practical example


We would recommend that some time be spent working a real life example – as value stream mapping requires some data in order to capture inventory at each stage and process times this may need to be planned, however it cannot be overstated how beneficial practical hands on value stream mapping is.  Allow the team plenty of time to carry this out.  Use large sheets of paper to construct the maps on and placing the photocopied symbols as you go.


You’ll probably want to practice mapping on a number of processes – so make sure that you have some examples to hand – working on a number of examples will help finesse capability.  Encourage the students to map processes that they are involved with on a day to day basis.


3/ Improvement activity


Use post it notes to brainstorm where issues in the process lie – then place the post it notes onto the map where the problems exist – don’t worry about fixing them – use this exercise to find problems (and prioritize) only


While the first two suggestions in our course  will provide many most of the knowledge attendees will need – simply producing a value stream map does not enhance the business – and by assessing possible improvements – the team can place the value stream map into its correct context of an improvement activity.



4/ Given the Value stream mapping experience gained at stage 1 – and the information provided at point 3 – get the team to construct their future state value stream map  taking into account that we’re trying to remove waste (excess inventory, lead times etc) and increase value add.


You may not be able to add all the improvements selected at point 3 so you’ll need to work on those that were prioritized.

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