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Value Stream Mapping


This is a session that will yield the current and future product development steps needed to put features in production, or “concept-to-cash”.

Its main utility is to:

  • Expose debt at risk / increase the realization of unrealized value
  • Understand how the organization manages change
  • Highlight system constraints
  • Provide a measurable basis for optimization
  • Use rational, value-based information for organizational change


All stakeholders, and all members of the product and support teams. Typically needed roles:

  • Application owner
  • Business, Product manager/owner
  • Project manager
  • Application architect
  • Platform architect
  • Development lead
  • QA lead
  • SEO & Social Media Rep
  • UX lead
  • Infrastructure lead
  • Ops lead
  • Compliance lead
  • Security lead
  • Performance lead
  • Deployment lead
  • CAB rep
  • L1, L2, L3 Support

When to use

Use this prior to any planning and commitment sessions, as it will inform the teams about the effort needed to put features into production.


Participants describe the steps needed to conceive, and deploy a feature to satisfy a customer’s request.


  • Book a room large enough to hold all the participants.
  • Make sure that the room has enough wall-space to visualize the VSM with cards.
  • If you have never seen the room before, ask the sponsor to send photos so you can plan placement.
  • Make sure A/V can show both the participants and a shared screen if you will have people calling in remotely.
  • Agree on ground rules.
  • Establish an agenda that takes people’s obligations into account.
  • Repeat the Prime Directive to ensure that people feel safe.
  • To facilitate flow, defer collecting details through breakout sessions as needed.
  • On average, a thorough VSM session takes between one and three days, depending on people’s availability and system breath.

Example of an agenda:

  • Day 1: Morning: Kickoff, Prime Directive, Retro, Hopes-and-Fears, start Current–state VSM Afternoon: Continued

  • Days 2 & 3: Mornings: Org/Tech deep-dive & Future-state VSM Afternoons: Continued

  • Day 3: Retro & next steps.


Select which process to map. Define the extent of the process to be covered. Optimally, it would be “concept to cash” to see the end-to-end flow of work.

  • Decide on the bounds of the map.
  • Discuss and document the process steps.
  • Document measurements.
  • Reflect on optimization for the future state.
  • Document the future state.
  • Create actionable steps to implement the future state.
  • Repeat in a few months and incorporate learning.


  • Wait (wt): The time it takes from submission of a request till work starts.
  • Value added (v): The effort time it takes to fulfill a request.
  • Unneeded non value-add (u): The time spent on irrelevant tasks.
  • Needed non value-add (n): The time spent on compliance tasks.
  • %FPCA (p): The rate at which incoming requests are deemed sufficiently correct for work to begin.
  • Lead time (l): The time it takes to fulfill a request (wt+v).
  • Waste (w): Time not spent on value-adding tasks (l - v).
  • Efficiency (e): Value added time as ratio of elapsed time and lead time (v/w).
  • True Efficiency (te): FPCA factored in (v/p)

Group size

Everyone, physically present.


Depending on the size of the effort, the number of components and the width of the goal-posts, this may take between 2 and 4 days.


Example output


Find a balance:

  • Selecting a limited scope may lead to misinformed local optimization.
  • Selecting a large scope will be rewarding, but logistically challenging.

More information