A value stream map (VSM) is an efficient visualization tool that shows not only the current state (what’s happening now) but also the future state (ideal workflow) of an item from start to finish.

Value stream mapping was originally designed for manufacturing facilities, but it is useful in any industry such as logistics, supply chain, healthcare, software development, and other service-related industries that must go through various departments and phases before the actual delivery to the customer.

In the software industry, value stream mapping is a popular lean exercise that allows leadership teams to optimize their software delivery process. Lean processes and techniques help teams prioritize, understand, and adjust to their ways of working.

Value stream mapping solutions provide powerful visual planning tools. The flow of information or materials that go into making a given product or service is modeled, analyzed, and improved. Visualizing and mapping a workflow from an unstarted item to completion is an exercise in visual stream mapping.

Here are some benefits of Value Stream Mapping:

  1. Helps Identify Waste -: Value mapping allows businesses to identify waste across the entire value stream and work towards more efficient operations by incorporating otherwise siloed departments, teams, and processes into a single diagram.¬† A value stream waste is an action or step in the flow that doesn’t add any value to the customer. Businesses can better identify non-value-adding activities by graphically illustrating their value stream, or the activities needed for the generation of the product or task.
  2. Enables Efficient Processes -: An enhanced value stream maps labels and links the flow of information and materials. A value stream map defines these factors in the process by determining takt times, lead times, and cycle times. To improve the efficiency associated with the delivery of the product, the company must determine where the value is being added, and where it is not being added, to produce maximum output and achieve goals.
  3. Aligns Teams for Greater Buy-In -: The benefit of Value Stream Mapping that people do not readily associate, is that it helps align goals across a company or division section by mapping out current and future states. The process can be seen from a company-wide perspective in this way, as opposed to being viewed from a departmental or job-specific perspective.
  4. A Value Stream Map Serves as a Focal Point for Future Growth Discussions -: Value stream map can serve as a guiding source of information to inform broader conversations about the future vision for the company and establish shared growth objectives. Understanding how to reduce waste and increase efficiency, or simply identifying the process, assists those discussions and in turn, leads to plans that help take a big step towards the ideal future state.

An effective value stream map can fuel continuous improvement. In the software industry, continuous improvement is at the core of continuous delivery pipelines that deliver frequent, predictable, and sustainable products to customers.