Process Map vs. Value Stream Map - What Sets Them Apart?
Business Management

Process Map vs. Value Stream Map - What Sets Them Apart?

Martin Bell
Martin Bell
5 min read.

Within the rapidly evolving startup sphere, the key to success often hinges on efficiency, adaptability, and a thorough understanding of how the value stream maps your processes. Two powerful tools in the arsenal of any startup are Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping.

These methods provide a visual representation of your business processes, or entire systems, allowing you to identify waste, bottlenecks, and redundancies, and identify opportunities for continuous improvement.

But how do you know which mapping technique to use and how it can be applied in real-world scenarios to identify and eliminate waste and inspire digital transformation in the entire process of your startup? Let's map out your road to success!

Value Stream Mapping: The Big Picture

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a visual representation of the end-to-end processes involved in delivering value to customers. It provides a holistic view of the entire process, encompassing not only the manufacturing phase but also mapping all activities and flows that contribute to creating customer value.

VSM focuses on three key process data elements within the lean enterprise technique: information flow, required materials, and raw material movement. It considers both material and information flows, existing process flow, and lead time. Using symbols and icons, VSM illustrates the process flow chart and the current state of processes, helping identify areas for improvement and guiding future actions toward achieving leaner operations at the desired level.

A Visualisation of a Value Stream Mapping Template 100 Tasks
A Visualisation of a Value Stream Mapping Template.

Process Mapping: The Details Matter

Process Mapping is a more detailed approach to visualizing your business processes. It zooms in on specific activities within a full process flow, providing a step-by-step breakdown of actual steps and how tasks are executed.

Process Maps use flowcharts, stream maps, swim lane diagrams, and other visual aids to show the sequence of steps involved in a particular process, identifying inputs, process steps, outputs, time constraints, and decision points along the way. This process map also allows you to identify potential areas for improvement or optimization within a specific process.

Simple Visualisation Process Map
A Simple Visualisation of a Process Map.

Choosing the Right Tool

To better comprehend the distinctions between Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping, it is crucial to highlight their key differences. Both mapping techniques offer valuable insights and can be employed to instigate change and drive improvements in your startup.

Nevertheless, their focus, information flows, level of detail, processing time, business process map vs value stream map, and the outcomes differ significantly. Let's explore five critical differences between Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping:

Focus: While Value Stream Mapping provides a macro view of your entire operations, emphasizing value creation for customers, Process Mapping zooms into specific processes, offering a micro view of tasks and steps involved.

Level of Detail: VSM provides an overview, highlighting key elements such as information flow, material flow, and lead time, whereas Process Mapping offers a granular breakdown of each step in a process.

Symbols and Icons: Both mapping techniques use visual aids but differ in the symbols they employ. VSM uses a specific set of symbols to represent suppliers, customers, and the flow of materials and information, whereas Process Mapping uses flowcharts and swim lane diagrams to depict task sequences.

Application: VSM is typically used for strategic decision-making, helping startups identify the overall impact of changes on the value stream. On the other hand, Process Mapping is employed for operational decision-making, focusing on improving individual processes.

Outcome: The outcome of VSM often leads to a streamlined, leaner operation with improved value delivery, whereas Process Mapping typically results in enhanced efficiency and effectiveness of specific processes.

While both Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping serve distinct purposes, their combined use can yield substantial benefits for startups. By using process maps and first leveraging Value Stream Mapping, startups can gain a macro perspective of their operations and uncover areas where value creation for customers can be enhanced.

Subsequently, startups can leverage Process Mapping to explore identified areas, dissect individual processes, and determine the necessary steps for improvement. This comprehensive and detailed approach, utilizing tools such as process maps and micro-level analyses, enhances overall operations while fine-tuning specific processes. The result is increased business efficiency and value creation—a perfect blend of strategic and operational improvements!

How Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping Work to Inspire Digital Transformation

As startups increasingly embrace digital transformation, the significance of Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping becomes even more pronounced. These two techniques play a vital role in pinpointing areas within businesses that hold potential for digitization and automation.

By streamlining existing processes and various value streams, they delve into the intricacies of stream management processes in more detail. The outcome is the delivery of enhanced value to customers.

Let's imagine a hypothetical startup called "Tech Solutions" that provides IT support services to small businesses. Using Value Stream Mapping, "Tech Solutions" can identify areas in its operations that could benefit from digitalization, such as online customer support and product creation and automated billing processes.

Next, by employing Process Mapping, the startup can break down the workflows in these identified areas into individual processes and determine how they can be optimized for a more efficient delivery and lean production of services.

Through this approach to software development stream management, "Tech Solutions" not only improves its overall operations but also streamlines specific processes to deliver more value to its customers.

With digitalization and automation of business processes, the startup can provide more customer demand, faster response times for customer support, and eliminate human error in customer request and billing processes. This in the business process ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Satisfied customer as a result of business automation
Automation of Business Processes Leads to Higher Customer Satisfaction.

Start with VSM, then Use Process Mapping

Ultimately, the most effective approach to lean manufacturing is to start at the macro level with Value Stream Mapping. This involves gaining a broad view of your startup's production environments and distinguishing between value stream mapping and other maps, flow, and operations.

Once you have a clear understanding of the overall value stream management big picture, you can then zoom in and use Process Mapping to optimize specific processes. This combination allows for a continuous improvement cycle, ensuring that your startup, value stream management, and flow are constantly evolving toward leaner operations.

Final thoughts

Whether you choose Value Stream Mapping or Process Mapping, the key is to have a clear understanding of your value stream maps and key process data from your own flow chart and startup's operations to locate areas for improvement. By utilizing both the value stream map and techniques together, startups can achieve leaner and more efficient operations, leading to greater success in the long run.

About Martin Bell

Martin Bell (Founder & CEO of Bell Ventures) is the visionary and driving force behind the hyper-successful 100 Tasks Startup System which has driven the growth of 20,000+ startups including Zalando and Delivery Hero.

At Rocket Internet, he pioneered the 100-Day-Launch process and led 120+ private and public sector venture-building projects.

Now Martin aims to democratize entrepreneurship by sharing his invaluable practical knowledge and tools to empower aspiring entrepreneurs just like you. Does that sound like you? Then make sure to learn more below ...

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