It is important to define the value from the customer’s perspective. A Value Stream is all of the actions and tasks, both value added and non-value added, required to bring an item (an idea, information, product or service) from its inception through delivery. These include actions to process information from the customer and actions to transform the product on its way to the customer. Value streams can vary in scope and context. Value Streams follow lean principles and iterate to get to an optimal state.


Products, information, or services flow through a value stream:

  • In manufacturing or distribution, materials are what flow.
  • In health services, patients are what flow.
  • In office areas, information is what flows.
  • In service areas, external customer needs flow through the value stream.
  • In administration, internal customer needs flow through the value stream.
  • In software development, software coding and testing flows through the value stream.

It is important to understand Value Streams can be dependent on each other and therefore, it is critical to understand those touch points to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the whole system.

The Value Stream Map provides visibility of the entire process. The process may cross functional boundaries. Without the map, you may focus on the wrong areas to try to improve, and therefore, get sub-optimal results. To get to a future optimal state, the current Value Stream needs to be analyzed and lean principles have to be applied.

To conduct a Value Stream Mapping (VSM) workshop, a VSM team needs to be assembled. The key players for the team are the following:

  • Executive Sponsor
  • Process Owner
  • Lean | Agile Coach (Facilitator)
  • Workshop Participants

The Executive Sponsor has the following responsibilities in supporting an optimal Value Stream implementation:

  • Ensures appropriate participation in the VSM workshop (makes sure the subject matter experts are freed up full-time for the multi-day event, and part-time to implement Action Items).
  • Serves as a proactive roadblock buster for the project.
  • Participates in: Scoping, Workshop Kick-off, Leadership Panel, Value Stream Reviews (30/60/90 day follow-up audits).

The Process Owner has the following responsibilities in supporting an optimal Value Stream implementation:

  • Owns the Setup Tasks and Action Plan!
  • Leads VSM initiative from pre-scoping through implementation.
  • Ensures action item pre-work is complete for scoping, workshop, and reviews.
  • During VSM event, takes over ownership during Action Item assignments.
  • Responsible for project meeting scheduling, preparation, and minutes.
  • Documents the implementation plan after the workshop and schedules 30-, 60-, and 90-day reviews.
  • Drives implementation plan activities for completion of the project.
  • Provides updates to Sponsor.
  • Monitors post-workshop process performance seeking opportunities to continuously improve and standardize work.

The Lean | Agile Coach has the following responsibilities in supporting an optimal Value Stream implementation:

  • Coaches Process Owner in the application of lean principles and tools.
  • Leads project scoping while mentoring Process Owner.
  • Prepares Process Owner for workshop.
  • Trains team and facilitates most of the workshop activities, sometimes with the Process Owner.
  • Transfers lean skills to leaders and participants.
  • Helps participants track and measure future state improvements.
  • Serves as the subject matter expert in driving and institutionalizing lean throughout the organization.

The role of a Subject Matter Expert (SME) has the following responsibilities in supporting an optimal Value Stream implementation:

  • Participate in the multi-day event as a Subject Matter Expert (full-time); be the change agent for implementing Action Items (part-time).
  • Representative staff as SME from each area that touches the process.
  • Staff who are well respected within their area.
  • Group of less than 15 is ideal.


From preparing for a Value Stream Mapping workshop to implementation to iterating, there are some basic steps to follow:

Step 1 - Prepare

  • Gather Preparatory Information
  • Document the Case for Change
  • Define the Scope (start and end of process)
  • Identify the Requirements
  • Review/establish Measurements
  • Set Logistics for Event & Location
  • Identify participants
  • Gather materials

Step 2 - Gather Data (Develop Current State)

  • Observe and gather data
  • Walk the value stream - see the actual work place
  • Follow and make notes about “item” and information flow
  • Gather data for each step in the flow:
    • Trigger/done
    • Actual lead time
    • Output
    • Actual cycle time
    • On time delivery
    • Staffing
    • Defect rate
    • Batch sizes
    • Overtime
    • Quality
    • Variations
    • Work in process
  • Map the flow of items
  • Map the flow of information
  • Add data and issues

Step 3 – Future State & Action Plans

  • Discuss the ideal state.
  • Develop the future state map.
  • Develop action plans & cadence tracking - Build draft time line for implementation.
  • Communication & training as required.

Step 4 – Execute to Plan

  • Implement improvements.
  • Conduct Workshops, events, projects, bursts per implementation plan.
  • Achieve value stream objectives.
  • Create an environment of continuous improvement.

Step 5 – Align

  • Conduct Value Stream Alignment Meeting on a Periodic basis.



  • Review event implementations & results.
  • Review impact to value stream metrics (individual events and overall).
  • Review next quarter events.
  • Review changes in business environment.
  • Communicate results.
  • Update value stream as required.
  • Update implementation plan as required.
  • Address resistance and sustainment issues.


Additional Tips for Success:

  • Capture as you go.
    • Issues
    • Acronyms / terminology
    • Parking Lot issues
    • Improvement items
  • Establish a time each day for Leadership to visit the workshop.
    • Progress update
    • Ask questions
    • Barrier busting
  • Capture at the end of each day.
    • Lessons Learned
    • Agenda for next day
  • Champion summarization for Leadership at end of each day.
    • Team accomplishments for the day
    • Agenda for next day

If you would like to use our Value Stream Workshop kit, please register with our Agile Adoption Maturity tool - - to access it.