Home > Process Workshops > Value Stream Mapping - The How To Guide


Looking to improve your business?

Congratulations -

You’ve made a great decision.

But it can be difficult to know where to begin.

There’s just so much to work on.

Increasing productivity…

Finding more time in the day…

Making sure customers are happy one hundred percent of the time.

It can sometimes be overwhelming.

But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be.

In fact -

There are tools and methods that can help you to make your business processes more efficient and effective

And they are available to you right now.

One of these methods is Value Stream Mapping (VSM).

Value stream maps are a popular mapping tool that is used by companies around the world.

Trust me - I know.

We’ve helped some of them do it!

And you wouldn’t believe how amazing the results are.

With value stream maps, we’ve helped businesses to massively increase their profits…

Even up to as much as a 40% increase.

It almost sounds too good to be true - right?!

But it isn’t -

And don’t you think you deserve to see those results too?

You may be wondering where to begin.

Well, don’t worry -

I’m here to help you!

I’ve put together this ultimate guide to value stream mapping…

So you can feel super confident about starting the process yourself.

I’m going to tell you:

 What Value Stream Mapping actually is

 What some of the amazing benefits are

 How to map your value stream - step by step

 My top tips for effective value stream mapping

And before you know it…

Your business is going to skyrocket to brand new heights.

And that is exactly what you want.

So, let’s begin!

two female employees using a whiteboard

Talk to the Automation Experts!

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 1
What is Value Stream Mapping?

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 2
What are the benefits of Value Stream Mapping?

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 3
How to Map your Value Stream

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 4
Top Tips for Value Stream Mapping

Chapter 1

What is Value Stream Mapping?

Before we dive into the details of how to map your value stream…

It’s a good idea to understand what value stream mapping actually is.

VSM is a business process management tool that is a part of the Lean manufacturing method.

Essentially, value stream mapping helps businesses to visualize each step in their working process.

It focuses on the steps between the production process and delivering to the customer.

The goal here -

Just like with most other business process management tools -

Is introspection and analysis.

Which then results in significant improvements to a company.

It’s important to note that when we talk about value we mean everything a customer or client would pay for.

So, you can see that value stream mapping is hugely customer focused.

Did you know?

Value Stream Mapping was popularized by Toyota’s 1993 “Toyota Production System” book

Christina Constantinou - Business Automation Expert

Source: Mosimtec

This is beneficial as many businesses neglect to analyze how well their development-to-customer flow works.

Take a client of ours from last year…

We worked with a small online cosmetic company.

They came to us desperate for help as they weren’t seeing their revenues go up.

In fact, they’d been losing money -

Over $17,000 a year.

And for any small business that can be a death sentence.

So we assisted them by taking a look at their business processes...

Then helping them to map their value stream in detail.

And we found so many ways that they could improve their future state.

They were using inefficient and outdated practices…

Such as:

 Manually entering and retrieving data

 Responding to customer queries individually

 Storing and searching for documents

 Creating and sending invoices manually

Which was costing them both time and money.

During our sessions with them, we gave them advice on how to improve their work operations…

And helped them by developing automation software that could do the tedious jobs for them.

Guess what?

They saw massive improvements…

Which resulted in a huge 37% increase in profits.

Amazing, right!?

Chapter 2

What are the benefits of Value Stream Mapping?

Ok, so you know what value stream mapping is…

But you may still be wondering…

‘Why should I map my value stream?’

I hear you…

Working towards change from your current state can be a huge, daunting task.

But value stream mapping is just so beneficial!

That’s why so many companies around the world -

Including automotive giant Toyota -

Have used VSM to change their business for the better.

Need more convincing?

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should map your value stream:

1. Identify problem areas

The great thing about VSM is that it is really analytical.

Because of this, when you map your business processes…

It suddenly becomes clear what you are doing wrong.

Sometimes it’s really hard to see problem areas -

Especially when every team member is used to doing things a certain way.

But value stream mapping allows you to see things from a new perspective…

And listen - I get it.

You’re proud of your business (you should be!).

You always want to see it in the best possible light.

Which is why it is a good idea to bring in process management experts that can look at your business objectively.

That way you can be sure you are not looking at your information flow through rose-coloured glasses…

Which would just hinder your chances of improvement.

And once you know exactly where your problems lie…

It becomes a lot easier to actually make the changes you need.

2. Increase productivity

So many business owners come to us looking for ways to increase their productivity.

Which makes sense in today’s climate -

Everyone wants things done faster and more efficiently.

But how can you know how to increase productivity if you don’t know why you’re not being productive?

That’s where value stream mapping comes in…

VSM takes a detailed look at your entire workflow -

From the initial development of ideas all the way to customer engagement -

And gives you the opportunity to identify where you can be more productive.

Most companies find that tedious, repetitive tasks account for their lack of productivity.

This is because most employees spend too much time on these tasks…

And not enough time on high-quality, important jobs.

Did you know?

48% of employees believe they would be more productive if they were given access to better office technology and tools

Christina Constantinou - Business Automation Expert

Source: Financial Director

Introducing automation software into your day-to-day business operations can make a huge difference to productivity.

Because once you automate the menial, administrative tasks…

Your employees can focus on the stuff that really matters.

And before you know it…

Your productivity will be through the roof!

3. Greater customer satisfaction

Value stream mapping focuses on the processes that affect customers.

Therefore, mapping your value stream can significantly improve customer satisfaction.

Think of it this way -

If your business processes are not geared one hundred percent towards your customers or clients…

How can you expect your consumers to be truly happy with what you are offering?

When you spend time mapping your value stream…

You’ll find that you will suddenly notice all the ways in which you can engage your customers better.

And then you can take all the steps you need to improve this.

Which will definitely benefit your business’s future state.

Because, of course…

A happy customer is what it’s all about!

man holding a credit card

Chapter 3

How to Map your Value Stream

Now it’s time to actually start mapping your value stream.

But there’s no need to get overwhelmed!

I’ve got you covered.

The steps are actually pretty simple.

Here’s how the process goes...

1. Assemble your Value Stream Mapping team

The first step is essentially to gather your team.

Don’t underestimate how important this step is!

The people in your value stream mapping team can make or break this process.

After all…

How can you successfully map your value stream if the team in charge of it has no idea what they are doing?

The answer is:

You can’t.

So you can see why preparing a stellar team is super important.

When gathering your team, it’s crucial that you consider this carefully.

This is so that you make sure you choose the right people for the project.

You should include people that are experts in the subject matter.

This means that they know exactly what the process consists of.

And how to carry it out effectively.

Typically, this will involve people that have already had experience with business process mapping.

As well as a proven track record of securing results...

That sounds a lot like us!

Our process workshops can help you map your value stream and information flow and get your business running much more efficiently.

You’ll see improvements in no time -

So why not get in touch?

Other than making sure you have experts on your team…

It is a good idea to involve people that can offer unique perspectives.

Consider including employees that work across the whole organization.

Especially those that work with customers and stakeholders.

That way you will have insight into every single aspect of your business.

Which will be hugely beneficial to your mapping process.

And will ensure that you are being as thorough and accurate as possible.

Which, of course, is exactly what you want.

2. Secure a space

Now that you have your dream team assembled…

It’s time to get started with the value stream mapping process.


Well, actually…

First, you need a space to work in.

I know what you’re thinking…

‘Isn’t that obvious?’

And you’re right, it may seem obvious -

But you’d be surprised by how many business owners neglect this step.

They think that they can just turn up to any old space and get going.

But they’re wrong.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a suitable area to work in.

It needs to be somewhere that allows everyone the ability to focus on the current state for long periods of time.

So make sure to book a quiet space that is available for extended stretches of time so you can work without interruptions.

You should also make sure that you have all the tools and equipment you need.

There’s nothing worse than being deep into an enlightening work session and realising you’re missing something important.

These tools may include:

 Digital mapping software

 Boards and projectors

 Enough manual tools (e.g. pens and paper)

Essentially, you need to make sure you are prepared.

That way you ensure you are one hundred percent ready to start the process.

And trust me -

You can never be too prepared!

3. Gather data


You are now prepared and ready to go.

Which means the next step is to begin gathering data.

Taking the time to gather as much information as possible before you start mapping is so important.

It means that you will have a full understanding of your current state…

And give you valuable insights into what you will need to improve.

Again, this is all about being prepared.

For me, preparation is key to any successful business process mapping.

Not only will you have a deeper understanding of how your company operates...

You’ll have every single piece of information available to you when you need it.

And it’s a huge relief to not have to worry about the facts -

Believe me!

Some examples of data you should gather before you being mapping are:

Job Descriptions

This is basically information regarding the number and variety of roles you have.

Include brief descriptions of what each job entails.

As well as explanations of key responsibilities and standard terms.

It’s important to include this so that you can have a full view of what your team consists of.

And why each role exists.

Total Working time

This data essentially consists of how much working time is available to you each day.

For example…

If your employees typically work from 9 - 5 five days a week -

And you have fifteen employees -

Your total working time per day is 120 hours.

Once you’ve figured out how much time you actually have…

It will be much easier to plan that time effectively.

Value Added Time (VAT)

Value added time is basically the amount of time spent that directly improves a process.

Which translates to the time that is the most valuable -

In particular, time spent that is most valuable to your customers and clients.

Identifying your VAT will help you to eliminate the unnecessary and unimportant tasks you are spending time on.

Cycle Time (C/T)

Your cycle time is how long it takes you to complete a task before that task needs to be repeated.

You can calculate the cycle time for a whole bunch of tasks:

Data entry…

Responding to customers…

Sending invoices…

There are so many jobs you can apply this to.


It is crucial to measure the demand for your products or services.

You should look at the data across different times, days and types of product.

That way you will be able to understand where the demand is -

And alter your operations to focus on what your customers want.


Here, you should take into consideration both current and theoretical capacity.

What this means is that you should look at what capacity you are working at right now…

And compare it to what your capacity should, in theory, be.

It’s really important that you are thorough when gathering data.

As this will make the process much easier for you in the long run.

4. Go backwards

Ok, this might sound a little weird at first.

But it makes total sense.

I recommend beginning by working backwards.

You’re going to want to start by focusing on the end part of your value stream.


Because these processes are the ones most closely and directly linked to your customers or clients.

And as your value stream centres so much on your value to consumers…

You can see why it’s crucial to make sure you spend the most time on the processes that directly impact them.

Did you know?

Starting VSM at the customer side gives more mental weight to the customer.

Christina Constantinou - Business Automation Expert

Source: All About Lean

Once you’ve really wrapped up your head around these processes…

You can start to work backwards to your other, less customer-facing operations.

Then you can be sure you know exactly what needs to be done.

And which steps are the most important.

See -

Told you it would make sense!

5. Start mapping

You should now have everything you need…

All your data collected…

Your specialised team gathered…

Your tools and equipment are right on hand…

Now you’re ready to start mapping your value stream.

The basic structure of your average value stream is:

Work from left to right -

With the internal development on the left…

And the external customer on the right.

That way, you’ve developed a map in the direction of the workflow you want to look at.

It’s a good idea to start with the beginning and the end of your map.

This is so that you can focus on:

 Where your workflow starts

 What you want to centre on

 What you want your ultimate goal to be

Structuring your map this way is not only logical -

But also the most helpful, as it allows you to keep moving from step-to-step in a comprehensive way.

Now that you have the structure and direction of your map…

It’s time to start adding your data.

Go through each process step by step in the order in which they will generally take place.

Remember to be as objective as possible -

You need to keep things as accurate and honest as you can be.

Otherwise, there’s no point in mapping your value stream at all!

Most teams use symbols to make their map easy to understand.

There are tonnes of pre-existing symbols that have been used by millions of companies during the VSM process.

Or - you can come up with your own!

Whatever works best for you and your team.

A few symbols that are commonly used are:

 Zigzag lines to document the flow of information

 Data boxes to store information about a process or department

 A push movement arrow to indicate movement within the company

 Kaizen bursts to show where continuous improvement activities will be focused

Work through each step of your operation carefully -

You really don’t want to miss anything out!

But make sure to focus on the items that have the most value.

This varies depending on the company…

So try to consider what your specific high-value processes are.

If you follow these steps…

You’ll have your new, incredibly detailed value stream map in no time!

6. Validate your map

Congratulations -

You have your value stream mapped!

The only thing you need to do now is to validate it.

What this means is that you will need to actually go to where these processes are taking place -

Across different departments and teams -

And ensure everything you’ve mapped is correct.

Take the time to talk to employees in each department to make sure your version of events is the same as theirs.

It is also a good idea to measure each process -

Record the time each step takes and how many people needed to do it -

And then go back and make any updates to your map that you need.

It’s really important that you do this!

You wouldn’t want to have spent hours painstakingly creating a detailed value stream map…

Only for some details to be incorrect…

Leaving your map to be all but useless.

That sounds like a nightmare!

So please do take the time to validate your map.

Chapter 4

Top Tips for Value Stream Mapping

Feeling ready to start the value stream mapping process?


But first, I wanted to share with you a few of my exclusive tips…

To make the process a complete breeze!

Here are a few personal tips:

1. Work together

You’ve gathered your team…

You have the best of the best helping you out…

Make sure you utilize them!

This might seem like a no-brainer…

But you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t do this.

It’s important to ensure that every person’s perspective is taken into account.

They are with you on this journey for a reason…

They know what they are doing!

Initiate a lot of brainstorming sessions and work collaboratively.

That way you will get all the best ideas and crucial points of view.

Work hands-on with simple tools such as whiteboards and post-its…

As this is the best way to strengthen team bonds and encourage interaction.

Which is exactly what you want to happen!

2. Be thorough

There’s no point doing something by halves…

So when you’re mapping your value stream -

Be as thorough as possible.

Go through each step in as much detail as you can.

Include every single piece of information you will need -

And make sure all your processes are covered.

Value stream mapping works so well because it is deeply reflective and analytical.

But how can you truly analyze something if there are pieces of the puzzle missing?

Some businesses will neglect to include all the information they can.

Because they want to get through the business process mapping as quickly as possible.

But this is the wrong approach.

They only end up unsatisfied with the results because they didn’t put in the work.

Don’t be like them -

Do it the right way.

And you’ll be sure to reap the rewards.

male employee writing on a whiteboard

3. Get help from the experts

I mentioned earlier how important it is to include business process mapping experts in your team.

This is because when you work with people who have experience in value stream mapping…

Your end result will be a whole lot better.

But not every business has experts already within their team.

In fact, most companies don’t.

That’s why you should contact industry-leading experts…

Like us!

At Lolly Co., we’ve helped hundreds of businesses achieve their full potential.

By using proven business process management techniques -

Including value stream mapping -

We can help you identify areas of concern…

And guide you through the process of making improvements.

As well as developing business automation tools of the highest standard.

Why not contact us about our process workshops?

And get started on improving your business today!


So there you have it.

Everything you need to know about Value Stream Mapping.

To recap, we’ve gone over:

 What Value Stream Mapping is

 What the benefits of VSM are

 The steps you need to take to map your value stream

 Tips for effective VSM

Now then…

Are you ready to get started?

If you are, you’ll want to make sure you do it right.

Why not get in touch?

We are the experts, after all!

Our process workshops are industry-leading and can help you to majorly improve your business.

We also develop high quality automation software to streamline your workflow...

And take your business to brand new heights..

Contact us today!

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