Value Stream Mapping to Find Where Time is Wasted

You now have recognized that your current process is taking longer than what your customer wait time is. Now you have to figure out what in the process needs to change in order to shave off time in the process.

You recognize that there is a problem in the process by how much time it is taking to complete the process. But where do you know where to begin?

Enter the world of Value Stream Mapping (VSM).


VSMs allow you to give a visual analyze your current state of the process so you can find where you are losing those valuable minutes (hours, days, or even weeks) in the process.

This tool is awesome at finding the wasted time that may be done in a single day.

Now just because the tool is awesome, doesn’t mean putting it together is awesome. VSMs and be pain staking long (depending on how long the process you are evaluating is) and it make cover your whole room to complete.

Yes I have had a VSM cover a whole wall of a conference room.

VSM Example

It can also be very detailed oriented, meaning there might be more work than just identifying the steps in the process. You will need to identify how long the task stays in one section, what is being done in that area, and where it moves too.

But the whole point in using a VSM it to find the waste.  So even if this is a long ass process that takes a long time, it will be worth knowing and pinpointing where the problems are at.

Be prepared to carry a clipboard and stop watch and wear comfortable shoes when you do this. It can be tiresome and boring to watch as a file gets put on some one’s desk and you have to stand their timing that person until they complete what is needed in that file (or product or whatever you tracking). It will also cause some people to feel nervous since you are doing nothing but observing the process and taking notes, recording everything about that widget you are tracking.

If you are unfamiliar with the process the better you will be with being accurate with the data needed.

Once you have completed this, step in the process, it’s time to hit the drawing board.

I know a lot of people are now using software programs such as SmartDraw but I am still old school and believe that a giant pad of sticky notes and a clean space on the wall works just as good.

Just take your posted notes and start at the very beginning and write every step of the process until you have completed the end. The reason you use posted notes is so that you can move these posted notes around (this may become helpful later).

Under each process you want to write down the time it takes for each of these tasks. Also include wait time and how long transportation takes.images

Use arrows and icons (see link) to show the process of where it goes.

One of the most important process is No Fudging any of this. It doesn’t help figuring out the issues if the data isn’t transparent.

In the end, this is what your VSM will start to look like.

Next thing that I like to do and I recommend everyone doing, is auditing the process. So take pictures of that wall that you just did and follow the process again. Taking notes, and figuring out facts.

Oh speaking of figuring out facts, I like to in my audit start asking questions to people in the process.
“Why is this being done?” “Why do you do that?”

It might be annoying for the person at the other end to keep getting questions but questions build thought and maybe they can help with some future decision making steps ahead.

It also can give you the resources to complete the project.

After auditing your VSM, go back and fix the original VSM. Snap a couple of pictures.

It’s time to have a supervisor or manager come in and take a look at the VSM to see if they agree with the mapping. I like to remove the amount of time it takes in each process. This can make a supervisor and manager bias in the VSM.

Once you are good and the manager is good. You can no put the time back on the VSM.

VSMYour VSM is complete!!! Yay!!!


So stay tuned on how to use your VSM to rock out on how to find your problem areas in this process.

If you want to know more about VSMs and how to utilize VSM to find your areas of wasted time, just click on the link below to set up your 15 minute business evaluation call.

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