Value Stream Mapping vs Process Mapping: A Comparison

Business process optimization remains a top priority for enterprises of all scale and sizes. However, figuring out the right mapping tool is one of the primary challenges that businesses must deal to ensure business efficiency and profit. Most businesses either use value stream maps (VSM) or process maps for process optimization. While both mapping tools can be tailored to adapt to diverse business environments, knowing the difference between the two can help in making a smart choice. Here’s a comparison between these two mapping tools:

1. Process View


When considering process views, VSM offers a broader or 360-degree view of the business process. On the other hand, process mapping provides a more detailed picture of the business process. In other words, value stream maps (VSM) are ideal to evaluate major functions within the process, whereas process maps are much more suited to assess particular tasks within a function.

2. Level of Difficulty

The level of difficulty in implementing value stream maps (VSM) is higher than in process maps. If implemented incorrectly, VSM can result in wrong assessments and interpretations. This can have negative consequences on long term business productivity and profits.

Process mapping too has its set of challenges. The primary among these is the absence of precise objectives. Process mapping has a structural analysis approach, and its effectiveness is dependent on the early identification of a particular methodology’s strengths and limitations.

3. Application

Value stream maps are most suited for improving production environments. VSM helps enterprises to better identify opportunities for growth across cross functions like inventory, machinery, etc. From product creation to delivery, VSM offers a birds-eye view of the product life cycle. It highlights the product cycle-time and wait-time between major production functions.

On the other hand, process maps improve decision making by better evaluating information flow between departments. Businesses that desire detailed know-how of what exactly drives decision making and what can be done to optimize decision making must use process maps.

Making The Right Choice

An organization must opt for either of the two mapping tools depending on their information needs. VSM is ideal when you desire a ‘big picture’ or an end-to-end view on how a product/service makes its journey from production to customer. It is an ideal approach if higher-level management desire insights for making business decisions that impact one and all departments and functions.

In sharp contrast to the above, the process map is preferable when businesses want to know exactly where and how the improvements have to be introduced. Furthermore, process maps are best to introduce greater efficiencies in downstream departments, workgroups, etc.

Today, the business landscape is competitive, and unforgiving emphasizing the importance of business process optimization. Pratham, a leading offshore product development service provider, helps businesses optimize their legacy workflows and processes with tailored BPM solutions. Our BPM services help enterprises create powerful and scalable business processes for workflow agility and business profitability. Contact us today to learn more about our BPM services.