Value stream mapping is a lean manufacturing technique used to analyze the flow of materials and information currently required to bring a product or service to a consumer. At Toyota, where the technique originated, it is known as "material and information flow mapping" .
Although value stream mapping is often associated with manufacturing, it is also used in logistics, supply chain, service related industries, healthcare, software development, and product development.
In a build-to-the-standard form Shigeo Shingo suggests that the value-adding steps be drawn across the centre of the map and the non-value-adding steps be represented in vertical lines at right angles to the value stream. Thus the activities become easily separated into the value stream which is the focus of one type of attention and the 'waste' steps another type. He calls the value stream the process and the non-value streams the operations. The thinking here is that the non-value-adding steps are often preparatory or tidying up to the value-adding step and are closely associated with the person or machine/workstation that executes that value-adding step. Therefore each vertical line is the 'story' of a person or workstation whilst the horizontal line represents the 'story' of the product being created.
The goal is to create a map, with minimum delay, while observing the target process in situation. Thus, value stream maps are usually drawn by hand in pencil to keep the mapping process simple and allow for simple correction.
However, software tools are emerging as an alternative. A variety are available either as stand alone products or stencils/add-ons to products such as Microsoft Visio, allCLEAR, iGrafx, ARIS Platform, FlowCharter and QPR ProcessGuide.
Hines and Rich (1997) defined seven value stream mapping tools they are: