Role of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) in Transforming Organizational Performance

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Upkaizen is committed to delivering exemplary services to its clients in the fields of operations, supply chain, human resources management, (HRM), etc. It was founded by Dante Garcia, who has the expertise and experience of over twenty years in supply chain management. He has been helping companies to apply the Kaizen principles to provide a competitive edge to his clients who have put their trust in him.  Through our blog, we also empower our clients with knowledge through relevant articles that matter. This piece of writing is on VALUE STREAM MAPPING (VSM).

The business performance of companies is embedded in their software systems. When they embrace, which they have to, to ‘Lean Manufacturing’ and ‘Six Sigma,’ etc. they have to put in place systems that are tailored to these programs, which will bring about ‘Continuous Improvement,’ (CI) that would increase the business performance. Each of these programs is focused on a repeatable methodology to realize a range of incremental improvements. Value stream mapping (VSM) is one such application.

What’s value stream mapping (VSM)?

VSM is a concept that can practically be applied to the entire organization to help it understand what the ‘value’ it is supposed to deliver to its customers by simplifying the business processes, which otherwise appear complex.  It is the mapping up of a sequence of activities needed to design and deliver a product/service by keeping in mind much of the flow is carried out by cross-functional teams within the same organization. It is not just a tool but a philosophy because it is not possible to manage what one cannot measure. Further, we can in no way improve anything if we do not have an agreement on the metric, but at the same time, it is not possible to optimize every parameter. It becomes then inevitable to choose the settings and how we would use them to bring improvements.  In short, improving our work processes starts with understanding and analyzing them as ‘value streams.’ More about value stream mapping can be found in Karen Martin and Mike Osterling’s book “Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation.”

VSM in practice

VSM demands critical thinking skills on the part of the team to gain an understanding of where they are and where they want to reach. This practice calls for outlining the view, wherein it has to focus:

  • What are the issues the team has to address, for instance, whether it is the cost, quality, or speed?
  • Do the issues we are looking for align with what the customer wants?
  • What are being measured and the metrics we have to use for measurement? For example, does it revolve around the reduction in delay, cost, and effort?
  • Do we have to create new procedures, would they involve new approvals and will they generate waste due to bureaucracy within the organization?
  • The follow-up to make VSM successful

Once the mapping is complete, it becomes imperative to resolve conflicts to reduce resistance to changes, arrive at a consensus on the vision within the team, and inspire innovation.  It is equally important to obtain feedback from the stakeholders, who can throw information that might have been missed by the group, which would help in making continuous changes that would help in further fine-tuning the processes.

We can conclude by observing that mapping the value stream provides ways and means for businesses to establish a strategic connection to improve a central focus for the client. The process of mapping facilitates the teams who carry out the work to develop improvements by enabling them to pinpoint disconnection, redundancy, complications, etc. to gain clarity on how the job can be done by incorporating continuous improvement, (CI) as a rule rather than an exception.

Feel free to consider reaching out to Upkaizen to take your business to the next level.

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