What is Yamazumi Chart

Guide: Yamazumi Chart

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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

The Yamazumi Chart is an effective tool that enables businesses to assess and balance workloads within their processes, increasing productivity and efficiency. The chart aids in locating bottlenecks, distributing resources unevenly, and pinpointing areas for improvement by graphically depicting the workload distribution across various steps or tasks.

This step-by-step manual will provide an in-depth walkthrough of how to use the Yamazumi Chart effectively, from comprehending its benefits and goals to putting workload balancing strategies into action and maintaining the improvements. You will have the information and resources necessary to optimize workloads, streamline procedures, and promote continuous improvement within your company if you follow this guide.

Table of Contents

What is a Yamazumi Chart?

In its simplest form, a Yamazumi chart is a process analysis tool. It is used to visually display and break down elements, cycle times, and the flow of a process into parts. Providing a detailed visualization will allow management and process improvement professionals to see the distribution of work and identify areas that may need improvement.

The Structure of a Yamazumi Chart

Each bar in a Yamazumi chart represents a single step in the process. These bars are then made up of value-added (VA), necessary non-value-added (NNVA), and non-value-added (NVA) activity; these two stacked on top of each other reflect the total cycle time. By stacking the categories, it is easy to identify which process steps take the longest time to complete and compare how much value-adding time each step has. This is an ideal analysis for reducing process bottlenecks.

To understand the concepts of VA, NNVA, and NVA in more detail, take a look at our Waste Analysis Guide.


Value-Add Steps:

These activities within a process step directly contribute to adding value to what the customer wants; they are done right the first time and transform material or information. For example, in manufacturing, this would include the actual shaping, assembling, or painting of a product.

Non-Value-Add Steps:

Non-value-added activities are actions in the process step that create no value in the eyes of the customer. This could be travelling to the other side of the factory to collect tools, equipment, or material.

Necessary Non-Value-Add Steps:

These activities do not add value in the eyes of the customer but are required for legal or compliance reasons. For example, putting on PPE does not provide value to the customer but may be required to conduct an activity such as welding or using certain types of equipment.

Value Add analysis Pie chart

Value Add analysis Pie chart

Why use a Yamazumi Chart?

Using a Yamazumi chart to understand processes and breaking down there activities into VA, NNVA and NVA is useful for a range of reasons as detailed below:

Identification of Work Imbalances

Work imbalances can often lead to bottlenecks in a process and can cause delays or excessive inventory. The Yamazumi chart highlights these imbalances by showing the cycle times visually, making it easier to compare the workload across different steps or stations.

Highlighting of Waste

The principle of waste reduction is central to Lean Six Sigma. Waste can come in many forms, including defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing. A Yamazumi chart can help identify these wastes, particularly in the categories of waiting, overproduction, and extra processing.

Support Workload Leveling (Heijunka)

Heijunka is a Lean technique to level the production schedule by volume and product mix. It does not necessarily mean producing at the same rate every day but rather smoothing out the peaks and valleys of production to meet customer demand with minimum waste. The Yamazumi chart can indicate where there are opportunities to redistribute work and create a more balanced process.

How to Create a Yamazumi Chart

Step 1: Collect Data

Before creating a Yamazumi chart, if you have not already, you will need to collect data. You must first understand the flow of the process from start to finish and list out each operation or task in the order it happens. This will form the basis of the sequence of tasks that will appear on the X-axis of the chart.

Next, for each operation listed, measure the cycle time (how long the process takes). This can be collected with direct observation using a stock watch or with digital tools that collect data from machines.

Data analysis

Step 2: Categorize Activities

Following the data collection, the next step is to break down the cycle time of the activities in each step into VA, NNVA, and NVA.

Value Add analysis Pie chart

Value Add analysis Pie chart

Value-Add Activity:

Value-added activities are those that directly contribute to meeting the customer’s requirements. The customer finds these steps valuable and is willing to pay for them because they directly transform the product or service.

Examples include:

  • Machining a part to customer specifications
  • Assembling components into the final product
  • Painting a product in the customer’s chosen color

Necessary Non-Value-Added Activities (NNVA)

Necessary Non-Value-Added activities do not add direct value to the product or service but are currently required to support the value-added steps under the existing process configurations. These are often due to technical limitations, regulatory compliance, or current organizational structures and should be minimized whenever possible.

Examples include:

  • Quality inspections to ensure the product meets quality standards
  • Moving materials between workstations due to layout constraints
  • Setup times for machinery

Non-Value-Added Activities (NVA)

Non-Value-Added activities are operations that take time, resources, or space but do not add any real value to the product or service from the customer’s perspective. These are considered waste and should be eliminated.

Examples include:

  • Waiting for materials to arrive or machines to become available
  • Excess inventory that ties up capital and space
  • Rework due to defects in earlier stages of the process

By categorizing activities into these three groups, you can more accurately assess where your process can be streamlined. This categorization also informs where to focus your continuous improvement efforts: eliminating NVA activities where possible, reducing NNVA activities, and ensuring that VA activities are performed as efficiently as possible.

Step 3: Create the Yamazumi Chart

Most people use Microsoft Excel or a similar spreadsheet tool to create Yamazumi charts. These tools are flexible and allow you to input your data, create stacked bar charts, and adjust the visual presentation.

Specialized Software

There are also specialized Lean Six Sigma software tools available that can help you create more sophisticated charts with additional features for analysis.

Excel Method

Creating a Yamazumi chart in Microsoft Excel involves several steps to properly visualize the process time for each step, along with the categorization into VA, NNVA, and NVA activities.

If you would like to follow the process but do not have data, feel free to download our demo data to practice the next steps: Demo data download.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create one:

Step 3.1: Data 

Before you open Excel, make sure you have your process data ready. You will need:

  • A list of each step in the process sequence.
  • The time taken for each step, broken down into VA, NNVA, and NVA.

Step 3.2: Table of data creation

Open a new Excel workbook and set up your data in columns:

  • In Column A, list the process steps.
  • In Column B, list the value-added time (VA) for each step.
  • In Column C, list the necessary non-value-added time (NNVA).
  • In Column D, list the non-value-added time (NVA).

Create a Yamazumi Chart 1

Step 3.3: Insert Stacked Bar Chart

  • Highlight the data you just entered.
  • Go to the ‘Insert’ tab on the Excel ribbon.
  • Click on ‘Bar Chart’ and choose ‘Stacked Bar.’

Create a Yamazumi Chart 2

You should now have your Yamazumi Bar chart, and you can use the tools in Excel as needed to change the styling, etc.

Create a Yamazumi Chart 3

Step 4: Analyze the Chart

Now that you have the chart, the next step is to analyze it and identify opportunities to improve the following:

Cycle Time Variations

Look for variations in cycle time across different steps. Steps that are significantly longer might indicate bottlenecks, while shorter steps might indicate areas where operations are highly efficient.

Waste Identification

Examine the proportion of non-value-added time in each step. Large segments of NVA time are opportunities for waste reduction.

Workload Balance

Assess the distribution of work. In a balanced process, steps should have relatively even cycle times. Discrepancies may suggest that some operations are overburdened while others are underutilized.

Step 5: Optimize the Process

Use the insights from the Yamazumi chart to make informed decisions about process changes. This might involve redistributing tasks, combining steps, or changing the sequence of operations.

Continuous Improvement

The Yamazumi chart is not just a one-time analysis tool but part of an ongoing process of continuous improvement. After making changes, the process should be reevaluated and a new chart created to measure the impact of those changes.

By going through these detailed steps, you will not only create a Yamazumi chart but use it as a dynamic tool to drive process improvement in your organization.


A Yamazumi chart serves as a key visualization tool in Lean Six Sigma to delineate and analyze the flow of a process. By breaking down each process step into Value-Added (VA), Necessary Non-Value-Added (NNVA), and Non-Value-Added (NVA) activities, it allows for a clear identification of work imbalances and waste. It’s instrumental in implementing workload leveling and continuous improvement.

Creating a Yamazumi chart involves collecting data, categorizing activities, and constructing a visual representation, typically via spreadsheet software. This tool guides professionals in pinpointing inefficiencies and optimizing processes, thereby enhancing productivity and reducing bottlenecks.


A: A Yamazumi Chart is a visual tool used to analyze and balance workloads within a process.

A: The benefits of using a Yamazumi Chart include improved productivity, reduced waste, enhanced process flow, and increased overall efficiency.

A: A Yamazumi Chart helps identify workload imbalances, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement within a process, allowing for optimized resource allocation.

A: To create a Yamazumi Chart, you need to identify the process steps, collect data on work content and cycle time, and plot the information on a graph or spreadsheet.

A: Analyzing the Yamazumi Chart involves identifying patterns, imbalances, and areas of overutilization or underutilization to make informed decisions for workload optimization.

A: Measures to balance workloads may include redistributing tasks, reallocating resources, streamlining processes, or improving training and skill levels.

A: Monitoring the impact involves collecting new data, creating an updated Yamazumi Chart, and comparing it with the initial chart to assess improvements in workload distribution and process efficiency.

A: Sustaining improvements involves communicating the findings and benefits, providing training on chart interpretation, integrating measures into standard operating procedures, and establishing monitoring systems for continuous improvement.


Picture of Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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