Value Stream Mapping Symbols and Icons

This video will give you all the basics of the “Value Stream Mapping Symbols”
to be ready to start with a simple map.

By using these value stream map icons you will be understood everywhere.

Value Stream Mapping Symbols in Powerpoint and Excel

  • Here you can download a Powerpoint made by Allaboutlean with all the symbols: VSM-Symbols
    Thanks to Mr. Roser for its great work on Allaboutlean.

Most Used Value Stream Map Symbols

Value Stream Map Symbols is also called VSM symbols or VSM Icons.

The most used lean symbols are:

  • Customers
  • MRP
  • Process Box
  • Data Box
  • Material Flow
  • Inventory
  • Information Flow

If you want to go further, here there is my multimedia guide on VSM.

Where to Find the List of Value Stream Mapping Symbols

It s recognized that the book that gives the standard of the symbols is
“Learning to See” by Mike Rother.

There you can find the VSM standard symbols explained and summarized at the end of the book.

Value Stream Map Symbols in Software

The library of the VSM icons is available in the commercial Microsoft software named VISIO.

Here how the symbols are represented.


VSM Customer Symbols

This icon is used to describe who is the customer and the customer request.

The same symbol is used to sketch the supplier.

The Process Box

The process box

This symbol is used with the name of the process written on the top.

The Data Box

The data box

This is a simple table where the relevant information is written related to the process box.


Inventory Symbol

It a simple triangle where the inventory expressed in pieces is noted on the VSM between the process boxes.

Transportation Symbol

Transportation Symbol

Here you see a truck, but the transportation symbols have to represent
how the material is carried: Airplane, Ship, Van, etc.

Push Arrow

Push Arrow

This is a value stream symbol that expresses how the material is moved between process boxes.
Push means that process 1 produces goods regardless of the request of process 2.


Fifo Lane

FIFO means First In First Out (FIFO).

This means that the first material that enters into the lane
is the first that is processed.

In other words, the oldest is always processed.

Value Stream Map Examples

Here I would like to collect all the examples that could help you
to understand how the Value Stream Mapping Symbols are used in reality.

Material and Info flow by Deming

Let me start with the Highest Level of VSM made by Deming.


Here what he used to say:

To the make the flow diagram work, the flow of material and information from any part of the system must match the input requirements of the next stages.

Thus, the aim in the flow diagram is for the material to come in at the front, and to emerge at the end as usable product or service.

The flow diagram describes not only the flow of material, but also the flow of information needed to manage the system.

Source – “The New Economics For Industry, Government, Education” by Dr. Deming


Value Stream Map With Materials Symbols and Information Symbols

Value Stream Mapping Example AS-IS

This is a classic example of a VSM with the information flow symbols on the top and the material flow symbols at the bottom.

This VSM was made by VISIO.

In reality, the VSM has to be done by Pencils, Sheets, Markers, Post-it, etc.


You can move on to the electronic format if you want.

How to Make a Value Stream Map

I have created a video series that describe into details how to make a Value Stream Map and where these VSM symbols have to be used.

Here there is the link to the VSM PLAYLIST on Youtube.

How to make VSM


I just gave an overview of the most common VSM Symbols related to material flow.

There are other symbols related to the information flow I will treat in another post.

# VSM Video Course

Leave your e-mail here and you will get the first part of the VSM video course!

  • Hi I would like to know how i can develop VSM for transactional project for example to reduce headcount and workmenship? Which Icons can i Use for it , Please let me know thanks

  • >