Where’s the Value? Value Stream Identification vs. Value Stream Mapping vs. Value Stream Management

Q: What is a Value Stream?
A: A tool for learning that helps organizations to become more responsive


How Value Stream Identification Makes Us More Responsive

Value Stream identification helps make our organization more responsive by identifying what we actually do that creates value and providing guidance for organizing us around that value stream. This aligns interests, reduces hand-offs and coordination for faster value.

How Value Stream Mapping Makes Us More Responsive

Value Stream mapping makes us more responsive by revealing the wasteful delays which we can then resolve to reduce our lead time.

How Value Stream Management Makes Us More Responsive

Value Stream Management makes us more responsive by automatically collecting data to help us both reduce lead time and measure the contribution work flowing through the value stream makes to our Business Results. Faster learning cycles enabled by Value Stream Management means we can be relentless in pursuing our improvement efforts.

What a value stream looks like

Value Stream Identification vs. Value Stream Mapping vs. Value Stream Management

Value Stream Identification Value Stream Mapping Value Stream Management
Questions we want to answer What we do, and how do we do it? How long does it take for us to do it? What is our lead time and actual process time? Is there a better way to get things done? Same as Value Stream Mapping. Also, how does the work and work mix in the value stream contribute to business results?
Use  – How it improves responsiveness Goal is to use learning to re-organize around the flow of value to align focus on value delivery, improve coordination and reduce hand-offs Goal is to shorten lead times  by discovering excessive delays between steps.
Reveals opportunities to streamline the value stream by re-engineering the value stream (future state).
Goal is to improve value creation.
Reveals opportunities to improve value delivery by automatically and continuously collecting a  wide variety of flow data directly  from the underlying tool network.
Automated data collection means shorter learning cycles than Value Stream Mapping.
Creates visibility into the  work mix in the value stream in real time and connects value flow to business results.
Enables value Stream Governance
Issues Does not collect quantitative performance data PT and LT data represents the aggregate of all work types. Data is usually gathered manually and is based on expert opinion.
Date is collected infrequently  due to the significant effort required to assemble experts and obtain data.
Requires tooling and normalizing tooling dataAutomated data collection may be difficult from document based tools like MS Excel.


Value stream Identification, Value Stream Mapping, and Value Stream Management are all lean learning tools to reduce lead time and improve the flow of value through an organization. However, it is still very easy to lose sight of our real goal, bringing value to our customers. It is all too easy to become obsessed with process and performance metrics because they are often easier to collect than business results. Who cares how many “trains” we have launched? Who cares if all our agile teams have a designated product owner and scrum master. Who cares if we reduced lead time if we cannot connect any of these process and performance metrics to a desirable business outcome? Always keep in mind the words of Peter Drucker” “there is nothing so wasteful as doing with great efficiency something that should have never been done in the first place”

Ready to get more responsive?

Get on the same page and define what value looks like in your organization by joining our Value Stream Workshop or learn about the technologies that enable you to better manage your value stream.

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Steve Adolph, Cprime Agile Coach
Steve Adolph, Cprime Agile Coach