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6 min read

Value stream mapping | Meaning and procedure

The optimization of production processes through lean production and continuous improvement processes (CIP) aims to reduce throughput times, which usually increases productivity. However, there are obstacles such as the 3Ms of lean production: Muda (waste), Mura (imbalance) and Muri (overload). Value stream mapping is an important tool for identifying non-value-adding activities in processes, especially in the context of Six Sigma.

The aim is to give you insights into value stream mapping and value stream design, explain steps for optimization and show you practical tips. Discover how you can achieve sustainable success through targeted analysis.


The importance of value stream mapping (VSM) for efficient processes

Value stream mapping (vsm) helps companies to optimize all processes and reduce waste. But what exactly is behind this term and why is value stream mapping so crucial for the sustainable success of a company?

Definition of value stream mapping (VSM)

Value stream mapping is a method that aims to optimize a company's entire production process. Material and information flows are visualized in a flow chart by observing and measuring the process steps over time. Product categories are recorded and potential for improvement identified, with particular attention paid to idle times, an aspect that is critical for efficiency in production. Both value-adding and non-value-adding activities are also taken into account, visualized and optimized on the basis of key figures.The aim is to uncover weak points and identify potential for improvement.

Value stream analysis supplier-company-customer value stream in the material flow


Why is analyzing the value stream important for the sustainable success of companies?

By designing processes effectively and eliminating excess, companies can not only reduce costs, but also increase their productivity and improve the quality of their products. Numerous methods for visualizing and optimizing processes are used in various industries. One method that offers a comprehensive approach to analysis and design is value stream mapping. It enables a clear representation of the current status of business processes and often serves as the starting point for a holistic analysis of the value stream. The value stream analysis is followed by the value stream design, in which the target state of the processes is developed and corresponding improvement measures are planned, a crucial step that is based on the principles of Lean and Toyota. 

This ultimately leads to more satisfied customers and greater competitiveness.

The value stream method also enables companies to continuously monitor and adapt their processes. Through regular analysis, companies can react flexibly to changes and continuously improve. This is particularly important in a dynamic market environment in which companies have to adapt quickly to new requirements.


A comparison of value stream mapping

How does this method differ from others that can also be used to improve processes? In the following, we look at the differentiation and correlations between value stream mapping and other methods such as material flow analysis, value analysis and the value chain.

  • Differentiation from material flow analysis: Material flow analysis mainly focuses on the physical movement of materials within a company. It examines how materials flow through the production process and identifies bottlenecks, overproduction or the inefficiency of processes. In contrast, value stream mapping looks not only at the flow of materials, but also at the flow of information and the entire value chain, including important aspects such as inventory and lead time.

  • Differentiation from value analysis: Value analysis, on the other hand, focuses on the intrinsic value of individual products or services. It examines which functions and features create value for the customer and which costs are associated with them. Value stream mapping, on the other hand, looks not only at individual products, but at the entire production process.

  • Differentiation from the value chain: Finally, the value chain looks at all of a company's activities that are necessary to manufacture a product or service and bring it to the customer. It includes both internal and external processes. Value stream mapping also focuses on the entire value chain, but goes one step further by specifically targeting the identification of waste and potential for improvement.

Lean production: value stream mapping as the key to success

The main objective is to view and understand a company's value chain holistically. By analyzing all processes and activities that are necessary to manufacture a product or service and deliver it to the customer, weak points can be identified and potential for improvement uncovered. The aim is to optimize and effectively design the entire value stream.

Another important goal is to establish a culture of continuous improvement within the company. Through regular analysis and optimization, companies can react flexibly to changes and continue to develop. This is particularly important in a dynamic market environment in which companies have to adapt quickly to new requirements.

Identify value stream


Step by step to optimal process design: carrying out a value stream analysis

Six basic process steps play a decisive role in the analysis and optimization of production processes.

  • Step 1: First, the production processes are defined in order to describe the direct production activities in the factory; this includes the analysis of material and information flows.

  • Step 2: This is followed by the description of the business processes, which include order processing as well as production planning and control.

  • Step 3: The material flow is analyzed to optimize the transport of materials between production processes, including storage, packaging and movement.

  • Step 4: Information flow is also considered to ensure that data and documents are successfully transferred between business and production processes.

  • Step 5: Customer requirements are considered to align production accordingly and model the system load.

  • Step 6: Equally important is the consideration of supplier relationships to ensure that production is optimally supplied with raw materials and parts from suppliers.

Together, these six steps form the total value stream of a manufacturing unit or organization, which includes value-adding activities, unavoidable activities and potential waste. 


Increasing efficiency: value stream design in practice

In a process optimization analysis, product groups are first formed that go through similar process steps. The products and corresponding production steps are listed in a matrix. This requires all production steps for each product and each version. If several products have common production steps, these can be combined into a product group.
If it is not possible to form several products into a group, separate value stream analyses must be carried out for each product. A separate value stream analysis is then created for each product group.

Guideline: Determining the customer cycle and visualizing the value stream

The current situation is visualized after the product groups have been formed in the form of a flow or value stream diagram. To achieve this, it is important to understand the customer's needs precisely. The calculation of the customer cycle plays a decisive role here. The customer cycle describes the frequency with which a customer demands a product or service. Synchronizing the production rate with the sales rate in value stream design ensures that production meets customer demand. Special symbols for basic information, material flow and information flow are used in the actual value stream diagram, which is essential for effective value stream designs.

Value stream diagrams follow a fixed structure: The starting point is the customer (top right), followed by an analysis along the value stream. The finished value stream diagram shows where there is potential for improvement in the value stream, e.g. in terms of throughput times. It also helps to identify opportunities to synchronize workflows. An example result of a value stream analysis or value stream diagram is shown below.




Guide for value stream mapping

Download this free guide to optimizing your production processes with value stream mapping for a self-audit for your company.



Advantages of value stream mapping: increased management efficiency

Advantages of value stream mapping

Value stream mapping enables a holistic analysis from the customer's perspective, helps to identify and eliminate excess and pays attention to the customer cycle. The various steps of a process are represented using simple symbols, which allows for a clear presentation.

Simple representation: One of the advantages is the simplicity of the symbols. This makes it easy to understand and can be used by all employees in the company. In addition, the holistic analysis from the customer's perspective enables a better orientation towards the customer's needs, which can lead to higher customer satisfaction.
Manageable level of detail: Another advantage is the method's manageable level of detail, which makes it possible to quickly identify potential for improvement and initiate measures to optimize the overall throughput time. This leads to successful process design and ultimately to cost savings for the company.

Disadvantage of value stream mapping

However, there are also disadvantages to value stream mapping. A static analysis can lead to changes in the process not being taken into account and potential opportunities for improvement being overlooked. In addition, testing the target states is often difficult, as reality often turns out differently than planned, which poses a challenge for lean methods.


How BeeWaTec can support value stream mapping

This method enables companies to analyze their processes, identify bottlenecks and uncover potential for improvement. But how can BeeWaTec help?

BeeWaTec is a leading provider of solutions in the field of lean production and offers customized concepts for optimizing production processes. With many years of experience and comprehensive know-how, BeeWaTec supports companies in making their processes more efficient and minimizing waste.

BeeWaTec also offers training courses and workshops on lean management in order to provide employees with targeted training and raise their awareness of the application of lean principles. After all, sustainable improvements can only be achieved if the entire team is involved and pulls together.

Thanks to BeeWaTec's support, companies can not only optimize their processes, but also strengthen their competitiveness and ensure long-term success. 

Workshop value stream mapping



Value stream mapping is a key tool for increasing efficiency and is primarily used within lean management. This article highlights its importance and shows how it can uncover invisible waste. The aim is to provide insights into value stream mapping, explain steps for optimization and provide practical tips. Companies can achieve sustainable success through targeted analysis.

Value stream mapping aims to optimize a company's entire production process by mapping the flow of materials and information and identifying potential for improvement. Value stream mapping is important for the sustainable success of a company as it makes processes more efficient, reduces costs and improves quality.


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