November 1, 2022
By Darren Dolcemascolo
While Value Stream Mapping was
originally applied to physical product
fulfillment from order to shipment, it
can be used for any fulfillment of a
request or order. Can software
development organizations take advantage
of value stream mapping?
Absolutely. Let's walk through a
There are 3 major steps to value
stream mapping. First, we identify our
value streams and select one to analyze
and improve. Second, we map the current
state. Finally, we map the future state
and create an action plan to achieve
it. Value streams are typically service
lines or product lines that are provided
to a customer. They typically run from
a customer order or request to
completion or fulfillment of the request
or order. Core value streams are those
that serve an external customer.
Support value streams typically serve an
internal customer. A core value stream
might be a software development service
offered to external clients, while an
example of an internal value stream
might be IT requests or even a software
service that is provided to an internal
Once a value stream and scope is
selected, we gather a team, consisting
of those who understand the current flow
and can make decisions about the future
state. Each major function in the
value stream needs to be represented.
Next, we can map the current state.
This includes documenting customer
and process information, identifying
main processes, selecting process
metrics, performing a walk-through,
establishing the prioritization of each
process, and calculating summary
1. Document the requirements of the
customer. We need to understand the
volume required as well as other
requirements like turnaround time or
special quality requirements. How many
requests or orders per day? What is the
desired turnaround time?
2. List the key processes. In value
stream mapping a single process box is
distinguished from another when there is
a time delay that is relatively
significant between the two processes.
If a request sits on a person’s desk for
approval. Then it is approved and moves
to another person’s desk where it waits,
there would be two process boxes with a
waiting time before each of them.
3. Select metrics to collect. At a
minimum we want to know the hands-on
processing time or range, turnaround
time, and perhaps a quality metric like
%complete/accurate information going
into the process or pass/fail rate.
4. Collect the data and fill in the
metrics through observation and other
reliable data collection methods.
5. At each step, ask how does each
process know what to work on next is
important in value stream mapping. Do
we have a push system where inventory of
items pile up waiting? How does the
process know which item to work on from
the pile? Or do we have a pull system-
perhaps a Kanban system- where it is
obvious what to work on next.
6. Create a timeline and summary
metrics. How much value creating time
or touch time versus turnaround time
(total time elapsed from start to
7. Have the team brainstorm wastes.
This helps everyone to see what the key
issues are before moving on to creating
the future state.
2: Future State Mapping