How to Create a Value Chain



Value chains are a powerful tool for businesses to analyze and identify opportunities for improving their efficiency. As a business owner, it is important to understand how your business creates, captures, and delivers value.

This article will provide an introduction to creating a value chain, and will discuss the various processes involved:

  • Creating value
  • Capturing value
  • Delivering value

Definition of a Value Chain

A value chain is a business model or system used to analyze and describe all the activities that contribute to a company’s ability to create, deliver and capture value. Every company has a value chain, as well as its own unique combination of primary and support activities. Whether you’re looking at an industrial manufacturer, healthcare provider or retailer, each organization is comprised of different links that form the overall supply chain system.

Essentially, a value chain breaks down these components into stages to more accurately understand what activities are required throughout the process. It helps companies identify areas where they can improve efficiency by evaluating cost reduction opportunities at every stage of production and delivery. Through careful analysis of the end-to-end process, businesses can determine their competitive advantage in order to gain maximum benefits.

The key elements in defining a value chain include:

  1. Extracting raw materials or gathering services;
  2. Manufacturing products or providing services;
  3. Marketing products or services;
  4. Delivering products through different channels;
  5. Supporting products through after-sales services and/or warranty opportunities;
  6. Analysis of current performance versus potential customers/markets.

Step 1: Identify Your Customers

Identifying who your customers are and understanding their needs should be the first priority when it comes to creating a successful value chain. It’s important to understand who you are targeting, as this will help you provide the best possible service or product.

By focusing on your target market and understanding their needs, you will be able to identify which areas of the business to invest in and which activities to streamline to reach your desired goal.

Determine the customer segment

Determining the customer segment is a critical first step in creating a value chain because it will initiate the process of understanding who the business needs to focus its efforts on in order to ensure a successful outcome. Knowing who your customers are will help you determine what type of services or products you should offer, and how much attention you should pay when creating promotional materials or advertisements.

The customer segment can be identified through demographic, geographical and psychographic data. Demographic data includes information such as gender, age, education level, income level and family size. Geographic data concerns where the customers reside and how accessible those locations are for interacting with them. Psychographic data concerns their lifestyle choices and interests, exploring what motivates them to make decisions or seek out specific products or services. Understanding these elements can inform marketing plans, pricing strategies and product development decisions that would serve the chosen customer segments better than broad-based approaches would.

Once you have gathered all these details then create buyer personas based on these characteristics in order to help visualize what types of customers best suit your business strategy – this will then assist in tailoring services/products according to their unique needs.

Identify customer needs

The first step in creating a value chain is to identify customer needs. By understanding the demands of the customer, the traditional value chain must be adjusted accordingly. The customer should be thoroughly understood before any attempt is made to design a value chain that focuses on customer satisfaction.

It is important to research trends, customer preferences and industry changes related to the products or services being offered. Knowing what customers need, want and expect from businesses can help inform decisions as you build your value chain’s processes for creative development, product delivery, and customer service. Additionally, you can determine which methods are most effective for obtaining desirable results in order to optimize core processes within your value chain.

You should also identify customer pain points by analyzing feedback from both satisfied and dissatisfied customers on why they chose your products or services over those of competitors. Understanding customer problems and needs allows you to customize solutions tailored specifically towards these requirements and create a competitive advantage over other businesses in your industry.

Step 2: Identify Your Value Creation Processes

Once you have identified your primary activities, you need to identify which activities create value for your customers. A value creation process is a process within your business which adds value to your product or service. This could be through the production process or it could be through marketing and sales. By analysing each of these processes, you can determine where improvements can be made to make your value chain more efficient and effective.

Identify your primary activities

Primary activities exist in a value chain, which are processes that contribute to adding value to a product or provide an alternative function. In the manufacturing industry, these include value creation activities such as:

  • Design and development – creating forms and specifications for parts that comprise the product, including parts from outside sources as needed. This includes creating CAD/CAM systems for designs, coding for any software developed for use in the product itself, as well as determining specifications for subcontractors for use in sourcing materials from them.
  • Raw material procurement – often used when parts need to be sourced from outside sources.
  • Production process – using machinery and tooling capabilities in order to make the parts themselves; this provides designers with a means of testing out ideas quickly.
  • Assembly – gathering all of the intricately machined components together into their final form ready for shipment; this final stage is critical since it not only checks accuracy but also looks at factors such as fitment between components prior to packaging up a finished product ready for sale on the marketplace.

Identify your secondary activities

Secondary activities are the activities that you do to support and aid your primary activities. Understanding these activities is key to understanding how profitably you are utilizing company resources. Secondary activities are typically divided into four categories – infrastructure, human resource management, technology and procurement – and can have a significant impact on value creation.

  • Infrastructure includes the general logistics of running your business, such as buildings, facilities and equipment used on a daily basis.
  • Human resource management includes processes related to employment practices like hiring and training personnel as well as any employee-related tasks or functions.
  • Technology involves components such as networks, software applications or specialized hardware used in product development or production systems.
  • Lastly, procurement covers all sourcing measures necessary to get raw materials or services needed for operations and production.

By analyzing your secondary activities carefully you will be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in the processes themselves as well as pinpoint any areas where resources could be better allocated for maximum gains in efficiency. With a detailed understanding of how secondary activities influence your primary processes, you can begin to tweak areas of the value chain for growth opportunities or cost savings.

Step 3: Analyze Your Value Chain

Once you have identified your key activities and value-adding activities, it is time to analyze your value chain. You can analyze the activities and assess their efficiency, as well as analyze the potential risks and opportunities associated with each activity. You can also use this stage to identify ways to improve your value chain by focusing on areas that can be improved and optimized.

Analyzing your value chain will help you develop strategies for improving your operations and increasing efficiency.

Identify cost drivers

In order to identify cost drivers for each step of your value chain, it is helpful to evaluate the different operations in your business process and to analyze their inputs, outputs and resources required. The cost drivers that you identify will help you understand which activities have the greatest impact on costs – whether they are labour-related, overhead or materials – and how integrated these activities are in the overall production process.

The main cost drivers that need to be considered include:

  • Labor costs (wage levels)
  • Overheads (fixed costs such as insurance, rent etc)
  • Technology (automation technologies used can significantly reduce operational costs)
  • Materials (high quality materials often mean better products but also increased expenses)
  • Location (location can influence resource availability in terms of both price and quantity)

Additionally, any regulations associated with the goods or services should also be taken into account as they may increase production costs.

By understanding the cost drivers associated with each activity within a value chain, businesses are better able to strategically identify potential areas of efficiency or where technological solutions can be used to reduce operational expenses whilst still delivering quality goods or services. This kind of analysis helps ensure that cost savings are achieved without compromising on the customers’ desired output.

Identify value drivers

Identifying your value drivers is critical to understanding how value is created and captured within your value chain. Value drivers are the key elements that are responsible for creating and increasing the value of a product or service. Some examples of potential value drivers include: quality, innovation, efficiency, cost leadership, customer experience and personalized services.

Identifying these drivers will provide insight into which areas of your process you need to focus on in order to maximize customer satisfaction while minimizing costs. Furthermore, by delving into these drivers, it can often be possible to uncover untapped potential within existing operations; this can then be leveraged to create an advantage over competitors and increase profitability.

In addition to examining individual activities in the supply chain for their performance against each driver (e.g., how efficient was supplier selection/management?), it is also important to look at them holistically as a whole system – evaluate if there are any areas where additional synergy could be achieved by more closely linking stages together or by providing more visibility across activities in order to drive results from further downstream activities (upstream-downstream). These effects feed back on each other and create stronger total benefits than just considering individual stages alone.

Analyzing each link in the chain with regards to key value drivers will help you identify potential issues and areas of improvement as well as offer potential solutions that could improve your offerings or increase profitability. These analysis should not just be limited to operations either – market research should also be conducted in order understand how customers perceive particular elements of your product/services’ values and what new benchmarks can you set in order outperform the competition up front.

Step 4: Leverage Your Value Chain

As you create your value chain it is important to make sure that you are able to leverage it to gain competitive advantage. Leveraging your value chain can help you increase efficiency and cost savings, while also helping you to differentiate your products and services from your competitors.

This step will discuss how to best leverage your value chain:

Identify areas of improvement

In step four of creating a value chain, the focus is less on identifying individual players and more on evaluating performance among suppliers, purchasers, and delivery networks. This evaluation involves looking objectively at a variety of internal factors such as production costs and quality control measures, as well as external considerations like customer satisfaction.

It is important to identify areas of improvement in order to better understand existing strengths and weaknesses. These insights can be used to create strategic objectives and corresponding actionable plans for improvement. When assessing current performance, consider the following questions:

  • How efficient are suppliers in terms of their processes for procurement, manufacturing and delivery?
  • What unique capabilities does each supplier possess that can improve overall value?
  • Are there any existing processes or systems that can be streamlined or automated?
  • What process improvements can be made to reduce waste or remove delays from the supply chain?
  • What protocols are in place to ensure product quality?
  • Can customer feedback be incorporated into process design decisions?

Look critically at all aspects of the value chain with an open mind towards potential improvement opportunities. Record your findings so you can refer back to them when creating your action plans.

Develop strategies to optimize value chain

Organizations must review their value chain to identify areas of efficiency, leverage opportunities and develop strategies for increased performance and profitability. To optimize the value chain in your organization, first look at the activities that generate value. Then map out the workflow process, customer needs, supplier performance, resources and innovative solutions. Additionally, consider integrating new technologies into existing processes to reduce costs or improve customer service.

Once you have identified the key activities within your value chain, you can begin to develop strategies to optimize its performance. These may include:

  • Analyzing optimal processes – Analyze your process flow and identify areas where costs can be reduced or processes improved by streamlining certain tasks or automating others.
  • Reassessing suppliers – Review agreements with suppliers to ensure they provide quality components at an optimal cost. Consider renegotiating deals with suppliers with whom you have repeat business – such as for packaging materials for products – to secure more favorable rates and delivery times.
  • Encouraging innovation – Encourage your employees to come up with innovative solutions that could potentially enhance efficiency and customer service in areas such as inventory management or distribution methods; recognize their contributions by offering rewards for suggestions that are implemented successfully.
  • Investing in technology – Invest in automation technologies such as inventory tracking throughout all stages of production from raw material procurement through shipping finished goods that can help reduce errors and eliminate time-consuming manual processes that drive up costs inefficiencies throughout the value chain.


Creating a successful value chain for your business requires careful analysis and creative problem solving. Start by conducting an assessment to define the scope of your value chain and establish the core processes that make up your operations.

Be sure to keep customers in mind as you craft and refine each process in the chain, ensuring that your value creation process focuses on adding customer value rather than just minimizing cost. Design solutions with scalability in mind; use agile methods to continually evaluate performance while applying continuous improvement best practices along the way.

Finally, remember to seek outside help when needed, whether it’s creating a new technology platform or finding an experienced consultant to guide you through a series of challenges. With thoughtful planning and execution, you can create a world-class value chain for your business.