Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a methodology for using simulation models together with value stream mapping (VSM) for designing lean service systems and illustrate it with a case study. Design/methodology/approach The authors propose a methodology combining simulation and VSM. Simulation models for both current and future states are developed to validate the results of the corresponding maps of current and future states, respectively. Findings The results illustrate the advantages of the suggested design represented by the future state map. Additionally, using simulation models together with VSM for validating current and future states also allows decision makers to perform comprehensive analyses on the system and draw statistical conclusions. Originality/value Although some lean applications in educational services exist in previous studies, according to the best of the authors' knowledge, this study is the first one combining VSM and simulation for the implementation of the lean concepts in the construction and technical services of a public university.