Businesses who have an end product, such as in manufacturing, use Value Stream mapping to help streamline activities, find holes or bottlenecks in their processes, or gain more clarity about how information and materials move through their organization. Value Stream Mapping is one tool of Lean Manufacturing.
Both Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and Value Stream Improvement (VSI) are sometimes used interchangeably, but the subtle difference is that VSM focuses on manufacturing and VSI is used more for the entire organization, including in non-manufacturing areas such as front office processes. It can be used in a variety of industries and I have used it successfully with a library, a software company, a county workforce agency, a construction company and others.
More and more businesses are looking at this Value Stream Improvement model, regardless of industry, to accomplish their goals.
“…Lean is much more than manufacturing. Peter Holtgreive led our software company into Lean with impressive results through value stream mapping and several kaizen events for our services and finance teams.” -Scott Ford
What is Value Stream mapping?
Value Stream mapping is a visual tool that defines information and material flows within a business. It clarifies responsibilities, practices and workflow with the overall goal of increased efficiency. Efficiency can come in several forms, such as reduced costs of production, increased productivity and less waste, just to name a few.
Value Stream Mapping can be used for processes of all types including employee onboarding, role and/or workflow clarity, accounts payable or receivable, warehouse functions, purchasing/working with vendors and more. It can be used to maximize consistency in every department of an organization and can be accomplished online, offline or a blend of both.
As a tool for efficiency and effectiveness, it can be used to create an ideal scenario versus actual scenario, to help make changes in management, processes and even culture. VSM looks at how well all of the processes work together, focused on material/service flow and information flow. There are typically many metrics included in each process step and in a lot of cases it goes through many departments, usually starting at initial client contract through to invoicing.
Value Stream mapping takes a specific objective and helps to measure and compare that objective alongside the entire organization’s objectives to make sure that all processes are aligned with the company’s values and capabilities.
How do I begin Value Stream mapping?
Value Stream Mapping usually begins with a designated team of people from inside the organization tasked with leading the project. It is also recommended that “outside eyes”, a consultant or Value Stream facilitator, be present to help guide the conversation and point out holes that may be overlooked by people who are seeing things day to day.
Here’s a specific example of this: I went into a company to facilitate a Value Stream Mapping session on how they receive sales orders for their custom made products. Once we mapped the current state it became obvious how poorly the entire process was working causing frustration throughout the company. As outside eyes, I was able to point out and address both a waste and a broken process they wouldn’t have addressed without me.
In Value Stream mapping we:
- Plan the event by defining the scope and collecting data.
- Extract the knowledge of those who do the work, create a snapshot and visibly show how the process works or doesn’t work – the Current State.
- Identify opportunities for improvement throughout the value stream where the processes can work better together.
- Design the Future State map ensuring that the opportunities improvements are taken into account while maintaining alignment with the mission and vision of the company. Create a project plan on how to get from the Current State to the Future State.
After the Value Stream Mapping is complete, we track, measure and manage follow through to make sure the new process is working as intended. We adjust or correct as needed.
Value Stream mapping is an effective tool for bringing clarity and efficiency to processes in business. As your outside eyes, I help you by facilitating Value Stream mapping and other efficiency boosting, non-software based solutions that can be implemented quickly and easily to reach the goals you are desiring. I often use VSM to find out what the rest of my engagement with a client might be, as it really helps us develop a plan on how to get where they want to and what needs to be done to get there.
Contact me today to learn more about how Value Stream mapping can simplify and improve your business process making them easier to understand, perform and manage. Together, we will create a continuous improvement culture and healthier bottom line.