A2.4. Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

What should I expect the outcomes to be of using the tool?

  • Is a big picture perspective – it is the essential tool
  • Called a System Picture in Cumbria County Council
  • Helps you see the sources of waste in your value stream and processes
  • Focuses on improving  the whole, not optimising pieces of the process
  • Is a tool for establishing a vision and implementation plan to get to that vision
  • You can use it to map your progress in improvement
  • Helps to focus on value across a number of processes rather than just a small part 
  • Provides you with an action plan of potential improvements/changes

Tool/ method

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is about identifying and analysing value from a customer/patient perspective.  It is a development of Process Mapping, with detailed data on time: 

  • Waiting times between process steps
  • The time of each step and of the whole process
  • Who is involved in each step
  • What is value and not value added time


Key measurements:

Cycle Time (CT)

The time it takes to complete one task

Lead Time

The time it takes for the whole process from start to finish including waits


Number or amount of need from service users/customers

Takt Time (TT)

The rate at which we need to complete work to meet demand Takt  time = Time available/Demand

Value added time (VA)

Non Value added time (NVA)


  • Provides a common language and understanding of the value stream (processes that add value)
  • Helps visualise the whole pathway and the relationship between processes
  • It shows the relationship between information and material/document/patient or customer/data flow

- It helps to identify waste and the sources of the waste

- It becomes an action plan of where to do the improvements first

Why we may choose to use this tool/ method?

  • It is a visual way to identify potential improvements and goals.
  • It can be used as an extension of Process Mapping.
  • You can use it to measure progress of your improvement. 

How you might use this tool/ method?

As with process mapping, we start with the current state and use this to develop our future state. 



Detail exactly what is happening now and where the areas for improvement are.



Detail what the expected system should look like after improvements have been made.


Mapping stages:

  1. Identify the process / pathway you wish to map and identify the stakeholders
  2. Collect data to aid with understanding the process
    • Go & See the process flow, talk to the people that carry out the process, get real actual data
  3. Create the current state map
    • Map the process, add the data, show the flow of information
  4. Analyse the current state map
    • Review the flow, data, value added operations, non value added operations, wastes, bottlenecks, batching, duplication (use the waste wheel)
  5. Look for areas of improvement
    • Identify what can be improved by changing the flow or eliminating the wastes.
  6. Create the Future State Map
    • This is a visual representation of your improved process. 


Coloured post it notes are used to represent different parts of the process e.g. yellow for the key process steps, orange where information is needed from outside the process.  Pink is used to identify issues/problems etc. (it depends what colours of post it notes you have).  Green can be used to identify hand offs.


How to do it?

  • You’ll need to involve everyone who has an input/linked to the process
  • Protected time
  • Location – Close to the pathway/process you wish to map (ideally where the work happens)
  • Mapping toolkit
    • Brown paper
    • Post it notes
    • Pens
    • Flip chart
    • Stop watch to measure each step in process 

What next?

  • Use PDSA to test improvements
  • Keep doing it – when you have made the improvements, the future state map is now the current state map and you are ready to carry on looking for further improvements.
  • Show others
  • Start small but think big (are there external processes that could benefit from VSM)

Examples/ case studies/ links to best practice/ evidence

There are templates that are useful to use when VSM and these can give a guide for you to use on your brown paper.



Contact for further information



Templates and visualisations:



Toolkit overview
The purpose of this toolkit
What is the Cumbria Production System?
How can we transform our services?
Cumbria Production System - improvement principles
What improvement outcomes and results can we expect?
When should you use the tools?
Key tool templates and visualisations
Summary of tools
Module 1: Our approach to improvement
1.1 Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA)
1.2 After Action Review (AAR)
1.3 Data gathering and evidence and '5 whys'
1.4 Measuring for improvement
1.5 A3
Module 2: Seeing the issues and adding value for the people who use our services
2.1 Maximising value
2.2 Customer Journey Mapping (CJM)
2.3 Process mapping
2.4 Value Stream Mapping (VSM)
Module 3: Waste removal and standardisation
3.1 Waste, waste wheel, waste walk
3.2 Spaghetti diagrams
3.3 5S workplace organisation
Module 4: Flow, demand and standard operations
4.1 Demand analysis
Module 5: Taking people with us
5.1 Stakeholder analysis
A. The tools in detail
Module 1: Our approach to improvement
A1.1 Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA)
A1.2 After Action Review (AAR)
A1.3 Data gathering and evidence and '5 whys'
A1.4 Measuring for improvement
A1.5 A3
Module 2: Seeing the issues and adding value for the people who use our services
A2.1 Maximising value
A2.2 Patient/ Customer Journey Mapping
A2.3 Process mapping
A2.4 Value Stream Mapping (VSM)
Module 3: Waste removal and standardisation
A3.1 Waste, waste wheel, waste walk
A3.2 Spaghetti diagrams
A3.3 5S workplace organisation
Module 4: Flow, demand and standard operations
A4.1 Demand analysis
Module 5: Taking people with us
A5.1 Stakeholder analysis
B. Common improvement terms (glossary)
C. References and acknowledgements