Value Stream Mapping: 4 Tips to Use it the Successful Way

Value stream mapping is a valuable and flexible tool. This is because it makes it easy for a business, team, or organization to track a unit of time and/or materials over a certain measurable process, the goal of which is to eliminate waste, thereby increasing value to the customer.

As our world becomes faster paced and more competitive through modern technology, it is vital to stay lean while providing the highest quality product. This article demonstrates:

  • What value stream mapping is;
  • Who can benefit from using it;
  • Ways to successfully use it to eliminate waste and increase value.

value stream mapping

What Is Value Stream Mapping?

Value stream mapping is a type of flow chart that uses a set of symbols called lean. These are used in the analysis, design, and management of inventory and information along a certain continuum of time.

This can show where waste is along that continuum so it can be eliminated. The first map shows the current state of the process. Through study of the current state, waste can be identified so an improved map with less waste, called the future state, can develop.

The elimination of waste increases the added value for the customer by using fewer resources. Value for the customer is made of timely quality products at the right price. Anything which affects the time, quality, and price will affect the value of the product or service for the customer.

Who Uses Value Stream Mapping?

The list of businesses and organizations which use value stream mapping is endless. Every place of business must satisfy customer needs through service or products. These need to be measurable units of time and material. Some examples are:

  • Manufacturing businesses that have materials and time periods which have a flow from point to point;
  • Design & development teams that have designs and time periods which have a flow from point to point;
  • Service organizations that have external customer needs that flow. One such flow could be timeliness of service to a customer;
  • Administrative organizations that have internal customer needs that flow. One such flow could be timeliness to resolve customer complaints to a call center.

Ways in Which Value Stream Mapping Can Help Your Business

Whatever the business entity, it has a certain number of measurable stages that result in a customer service.

  • One measurable unit is time. A map can show where a stage is not time efficient. Possible solutions may be to combine two or more stages or eliminate unneeded stages for improved efficiency. Increased efficiency eliminates waste and increases the value of the product on the customer side.
  • Other measurable units are product and manufactured items. If, for example, the quality of the product decreases, a map can pinpoint where the breakdown occurs along the process. Therefore, you can take steps to correct the problem. Increased quality in manufactured and produced items decreases waste and improves the product quality.

business people working

4 Tips to Successfully Use Value Stream Mapping for Your Business

A value stream map is made with regard to a problem or complaint. This is usually from a customer’s point of reference regarding the timeliness, quality, or price of a product or service. Whether it is the end customer or a customer in a work station, it is important to find the cause of waste which degrades the time, quality, or price of the value of the service being offered.

When creating the map remember that simplicity is the key. Make the map by hand using a pencil which makes changes to the map easier. Use paper sized about 11” by 17”. This is a good size because it is large enough for all the mapping stations and symbols while being compact enough to carry during your walk through of the process. Here are some tips for creating and using value stream maps for your business.

1. State the Problem

Accurately stating the problem is the first step.

  • Is it a service problem?
  • Could it be a timeliness issue?
  • Is it a quality or quantity issue with materials?

2. Identify the Basic Process Step and the Data Measurement Requirements

  • What is the flow of the value stream from the beginning to end point?
  • What are the stations involved in the process and the data/measurement requirements for each step of the process under analysis?

3. Pick Your Team to Create the Current State of the Value Stream Process

Pick the team best qualified to analyze and fix the problem. Involve the key players and stakeholders who understand the process and have a stake in the results. Walk every bit of the value stream while timing every aspect of the individual stations.

Don’t take for granted that the path or the times between the different stages are correct. Ask questions to clarify any areas you fail to understand and record every piece of information you discover.

4. Create the Future State Value Stream Map

After collecting your data, analyze the data in conjunction with your present map. Look for all areas where waste can be eliminated. You can do this through consolidation, or elimination.

You can even proceed to changing of different stages to close the gap between the current state and future state value stream map. After drawing the new map, reassess to ensure the new map resolves the problem.

Folding Up the Map

Use value stream mapping as a valuable and versatile tool to make your business, organization, or team more lean and efficient. This is more important than ever for today’s fast paced and increasingly global market. To stay competitive, it is necessary to do more work with less resources while maintaining the highest quality.

Value stream mapping is a great way to keep it lean while maintaining that standard of quality.

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