Value Stream Mapping


Value Stream Mapping


In the broadest sense, the ‘value stream’ is the set of activities that your product or service goes through from raw materials to delivery to your customer. During this flow, some activities add value and others add no value or simply leave your product waiting for long periods of time. Value stream mapping, is the process of identifying and quantifying those value adding and non-value adding steps and delays. In simplest terms, anything that is not adding value is waste.


Clearly you can use Elements Process Knowledge to capture the ‘value stream’ and using Data Structures you can capture any level of detail around value add and waste. For example, Lean defines 8 types of waste. If you want to capture those by activity you can. Elements has the flexibility to allow you to decide what approach you want to use – and capture that information in the context of Process Knowledge – i.e. Who needs to do What, When, Why and How – to focus the organization on value adding activities, and eliminate waste.

Getting visibility of Process Knowledge and engaging people around an agreed picture of the As-Is state, and collaboratively designing and adopting the desired ‘To-Be’ state is central to the vast majority of Lean projects. Elements Process Knowledge brings new levels of accessibility, understanding and engagement to the broadest audience. Historically, most Lean projects tend to end up using a wide range of visual process mapping techniques, from manual ‘brown-paper’ exercises, to flowcharts, to simple presentation style visualisations supported by impenetrable spreadsheets. The capabilities that Elements can provide are entirely complementary and a strong support to any Lean project.

In fact this type of simple approach to Process Mapping for capturing, collaborating and communicating process information has been used throughout many Lean projects for the last couple of decades with great results.

However. All that said, if you want to do pure ‘Value Stream Mapping’ – that is a different story.

Value Stream Mapping in a ‘pure’ sense is a very specific type of diagram with a set of symbols and a language for capturing and communicating information using a Lean approach. We suggest you use one of the commercially available Value Stream Mapping tools (some free), to build a specific value stream. You can link this to the processes in Elements using an attachment URL link to the selected tool, or linking to output (PDF or image) which is stored in the cloud.

For more examples of Value Stream Mapping, see


The following example is from the Wikipedia entry on VSM: By DanielPenfield – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,



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