Map the Value Stream


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When people hear the term “Map the Value Stream,” their thoughts often go to the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Process. Value Stream Mapping as depicted in “Learning to See: Value Stream Mapping to Add Value and Eliminate MUDA is the accepted method throughout the United States. It is primarily oriented toward manufacturing. In recent times it has moved into the non-manufacturing areas. The difference is that instead of the material flow that you look at which takes place in manufacturing, in the office and service area, it is information that needs to flow and as a result of that there are a few unique changes to the way you look at Value Stream Mapping for office and services.

A Value Stream Map (VSM) is a comprehensive set of activities and communications that collectively creates and delivers value to the customer. A typical approach to process improvement is to select a process of concern to the organization, map all the details of the process, remove the non-value added activities and then fix whatever seems to be broken. The non-value added activities should be determined from the customer’s point of view. Most organizations focusing on system redesign do so with the intent of reducing costs.

A VSM begins with a customer need for a product or service, and ends with that customer’s belief that he has received something of genuine value. Value Streams typically are made up of several inter-connected processes and involve any number of functional areas within the organization. We evaluate the entire set of processes, communications, and activities that make up a Value Stream. Employing a flow charting approach, we describe exactly how value is currently being delivered by the organization and how you can deliver it more effectively and efficiently.

The Value Stream Map (Current State) points out those critical value delivery processes as they currently exist. The map then provides the Value Stream Mapping Team with the template to redesign the value delivery process to:

  • Increase the responsiveness of the system
  • Enhance its value delivery capacity
  • Deliver greater customer quality at a reduced cost to the organization.

The actual skill of Mapping is very learn-able and a skill that can be developed. The keys to effectively using Value Stream Mapping is in mapping the right processes, identifying all process linkages to key customer contacts, making dramatic improvements on key customer benefits, eliminating only those costs that don‘t contribute to outstanding value delivery, and monitoring the impact of those improvements. Your Value Streams are the focal point of any significant targeted improvement efforts and should be the driver for enhancing your organization’s competitive value proposition.

In the book,Value Stream Mapping for Lean Development: A How-To Guide for Streamlining Time to Market, Drew Locher explains how to create a Future State Map by utilizing seven basic questions:

  1. What does the customer really need?
  2. How often will we check our performance to customer needs?
  3. Which steps create value and which steps are waste?
  4. How can we flow work with fewer interruptions?
  5. How do we control work between interruptions, and how will work be triggered and prioritized?
  6. How will we level the workload and/or different activities?
  7. What process improvements will be necessary?

Drew goes on to conclude that future state mapping is not a brainstorming session. He likes to use a key ground rule of 70%. If the team believes that they have a 70% chance of implementing a particular idea in less than one year, it could be included as part of the future state. If it is longer, the entire improvement effort would suffer. These specific improvement efforts will be depicted in a value stream map by the use of a Kaizen Burst icon.

There are two excellent podcast on this subject: Applying Value Stream Concepts with Jim Luckman and Using Value Stream Mapping in Lean with Drew Locher

All Business901 Podcast are available at the Business901 iTunes Store or view the Mobile Version of Business901 Podcast

Mapping the Value Stream is just not about Value Stream Mapping. There are many other tools that we forget about that fits under this umbrella. A few of them to consider:

  1. Process Mapping;
  2. SIPOC
  3. Metrics-Based Process Mapping
  4. Work Flow Mapping
  5. Flow Charting
  6. Customer Journey Maps

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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