While value stream maps can be daunting to understand, these 6 reasons should help you in deciding whether you want to adopt the visual technique.
Written by: Nigel Richardson
Why bother with Value Stream Mapping?
To those who have never seen a Value Stream Map (VSM) before, it can be a daunting thing to get your head around.
But, VSM gives clarity on where value is being added in a process, enabling you to then drive greater efficiency with delivering your product / service.
It is certainly very different from other process mapping techniques and the initial reaction can often be “does it need to be this complicated?”. In fact, one look at value stream diagrams may very well support that.
There may well need to be a loop of education and persuasion to get you to a point where you have a level of buy in for this approach, regardless of whether you are an expert at Value Stream Mapping.
Today we are looking at six reasons which should make the Value Stream Mapping process the method of choice in your Lean management:
1) It is a cross functional perspective
It is a tool that joins people to together from various parts of the organization who in reality have never had the opportunity or motivation to do so before.
2) Value Stream Maps capture information flow
In addition to the logical flow or your process or service, it also captures information flow.
Very few methods I have experienced allow the integration of information flow with your business process in such an effective way.
3) Your operating model is presented to you on a page
Very few mapping techniques build out the additional considerations of monitoring and control of your end to end performance above and beyond the delivery.
4) They become the canvas for your improvement conversations
Once stakeholders understand what they are looking at, it becomes incredibly easy to communicate large amounts of information that improvements of this nature require to enable clear, informed decision-making to allow improvement definition and prioritization
5) It visualizes the importance of ‘upstream performance’
Stakeholders earlier in the process become very aware of how their own performance is critical in how the remainder of the end to end process actually perform.
From a stakeholder management perspective this is vital as in many cases these stakeholders believe the problems relate to functions further down the end to end process.
6) The improvement is in the gaps
There can be a lot of focus on how to improve a task, make it faster, more efficient.
Value Stream Maps highlight the gaps between those processes where either a customer is waiting or product is being built up as inventory.
It is these gaps that create the most waste or the poor customer experience, so investing in how the tasks are completed to eliminate or reduce this time in the gaps is a subtle but critical difference in focus.
So, is VSM beneficial?
With a value mapped out, your team will be in a place to understand the end-to-end stream of your operations, track performance, and then be in a stronger place to make those processes more efficient.
That is, in essence, the purpose of a Lean Value Stream Map.
Undoubtedly, these 6 reasons highlight the value of mapping, with waste and bottlenecks identified, increased process efficiency, better product quality and cross-functional collaboration among the benefits of adopting this Lean technique.
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About the author
Nigel Richardson is a continuous improvement expert. His background spans 20 years in business transformation and continuous improvement across retail, pharma, aviation and IT supply chain. He is passionate about supporting organizations to achieve their strategic, transformational and improvement goals, and outperform their peers year after year.