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Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and Metrics-Based Process Mapping (MBPM)

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What is it?

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and Metrics-Based Process Mapping (MBPM) are third generation lean process improvement techniques, optimized for an extended organizational transformation effort. They work in tandem, where VSM is designed to view the big, macro picture and make strategic decisions with executives, and MBPM is designed to view the detailed, micro picture and make tactical improvements with front line workers. The first generation of these techniques comes from Toyota’s “information and material flow” (as documented in Lean Thinking1 and the second generation from Learning to See2.

Why use VSM & MBPM?

In the context of software delivery, VSM & MBPM are excellent tools to holistically analyze and optimize “brownfield” delivery processes, including everything from requirements definition, infrastructure provisioning and application development.

Being derived from Lean Manufacturing, VSM & MBPM visually represent the way work flows through an organization, at both a macro and micro level, from the time a customer requests a good/service, until the time a customer receives the good/service. When used together, these tools are particularly effective at:

  • building shared understand throughout the various levels of an organization how work is actually done
  • creating the urgency for improvement
  • formulating specific, data driven improvement plans
  • preventing “improvement” work in a particular area that leads to sub-optimization for the entire value stream / process
  • In order to effectively deliver a session, it’s critical you prepare with a Chartering exercise

Who do you need?

  • No more than 10 people
  • VSM requires decision makers, usually Director or above
  • MBPM requires front line workers for the processes being improved

Suggested Time

  • Done as documented by Karen Martin, these are 2-3 day, dedicated workshops.
  • Labs team is currently working on more abbreviated formats that fit our delivery model


  • Facilitator: Hard
  • Participants: Medium to Hard

Facilitation Materials Needed

Some teams prefer whiteboards, but the most common approach uses paper and PostIts

  • Drawing paper roll3.
  • Different colored wide format sticky notes like the 4x6 sticky notes4
  • markers for the PostIts
  • charcoal pencil and eraser5 to draw lines between PostIts
  • For MBPM; chalk line can be useful, but not required

Process Phase

Both VSM & MBPM document a current state map, and then design a future state map for subsequent implementation. Using the Double Diamond design model6, the current state mapping takes us from the middle of the Discover stage to the middle of the Define stage, and the future state mapping takes us from the middle of the Define stage to the middle of Develop stage.

Additional Resources

Start With

  • Webinar and Slides from Karen Martin’s Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping: When to Use Each

VSM Specific Resources

MBPM Specific Resources

Additional Resources for Red Hatters (We’re figuring out how to share these more broadly)

External References

  1. Lean Thinking
  2. Learning to See
  3. Drawing Paper example
  4. 4x6 sticky notes example
  5. charcoal pencil and eraser example
  6. Double Diamond design model