Value stream mapping is a Toyota lean manufacturing visualization tool for recording all the processes that are required to bring a product to market.
A value stream map is typically created as a one-page flow chart depicting the current production path or design path of a product from the customer's request to delivery. An important goal of value stream mapping is to identify processes that do not provide value so they can be improved. In lean production, value can be thought of as anything the customer is willing to pay for. Processes that do not provide value are called waste. Value stream maps document the current state of the value stream as well as the future state of the value stream and define any gaps between the two.
Value stream mapping is often used to discover processes that could be streamlined and areas of waste that could be eliminated in keeping with Toyota's kaizen philosophy. The philosophy, which emphasizes continuous improvement, has been adopted by many other industries outside manufacturing including healthcare and software development.