Differences Between Six Sigma Process Map & Lean SS VSM

In the world of Six Sigma and Lean, the difference between Value Stream Mapping and the Process Map has been often discussed. This topic has been talked and written about at length, and still people get both confused. So this week, we are going to clear this confusion up once and for all, hopefully!

First, let’s discuss the basics. Here is a clarification of the terms for our purposes regarding Six Sigma & Lean SS:

Process: A number or movements or a course of action taken to produce to completion a product or service.

Map: A visual representation of what we are trying to convey, usually the relationships between various elements.

Process Map: A Six Sigma diagram that visually shows workflow, its purpose is to visually see the steps, and course of action that it takes to complete production of a product or service. The purpose is to actually see the flow of the current process as it is in real life. There are different levels of process maps depending on how much information you want to include or how specific you make your intentions. This is a great tool for really understanding the day-to-day tasks and steps.

Value Stream Mapping: A Lean Six Sigma tool used to analyze and improve the entire workflow, from delivering the raw materials to what it takes to produce the final result as the customer requires it.

Although the Lean Six Sigma tool known as Value Stream Mapping and the Six Sigma Process maps are similar in creation and one could use similar templates, the major differences are in the intention and the level of details included in the map. Value Stream Mapping is used to eliminate waste or Muda, thus increasing workflow and decreasing production costs and delivering what the customer requires. The discerning eye must look at every part or step of the current process as waste or Muda to determine if this task or course of action adds value or is of non-value to what the customer requires in the final product or service.

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