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Value Stream and The Customer’s Perspective

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Customer satisfaction and value-stream mapping go hand in hand. When we map a value stream, we need to consider the customer’s perspective. Without thinking about the customer, we won’t know whether that process flow genuinely adds value.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a methodology for improving processes and their flow. It maps out all of the steps in a process and helps identify waste and eliminate it. As we know, we always want to serve customers better and not waste their time. But customer service and sales professionals aren’t always thinking about the customers when they interact with them.

When they see the bigger picture, the value that customers provide, then all kinds of ideas start developing to help them help customers, even if that means helping them find other sources for products or services. So how the perspective of the customer does fit into the value stream?

Customer-Centric

Lean is customer-obsessed! Lean perspective is always customers focused.

In Lean management, we are customer-obsessed with value stream management. Everything should focus on two things:

  • first, flow to bring our items to the customer as quickly as possible
  • the second thing is to understand the customer’s feedback or the customer’s experience to this new value

In 2004, Jeffrey Liker summarised his view of The Toyota Way via 14 fundamental management principles (Liker, 2004). The key is to be the focus on establishing continuous flows to surface problems quickly and eliminating waste.

For instance, Kanban is the Japanese word for the visual border, the visual code (or label), which controls, understands, visualises, and collaborates on our workflows.

In Kanban, one of the things we do is pull work. What is “pull” work through the system? We use a pull-oriented approach to order and materials entry based on demand rather than pushing in. And it’s a change of mindset! So, that implies we think through the eyes of the customer.

In that way, we use visual controls such as Kanban boards to avoid hiding problems. In addition, standardise tasks and processes across your value streams help use only thoroughly tested and reliable technologies selected by your people to support their operations.

Shortened Cycle Time

“Cycle time” and “lead time” are both work and productivity measurements that have their origins in the Kanban system, a Lean production scheduling technique created by Toyota in the 1950s.

The period between when a request is made and when the final product is delivered, or the customer’s perspective on how long something takes to finish, is known as lead time.

With delivery, the cycle time comes to an end. It begins when work on a request starts, not when the request is received. Cycle time is a metric of a system’s overall completion rate or work capacity. Therefore, when a request is made, a shorter cycle time implies less time is wasted.

Cycle time is a popular term among Kanban practitioners; it is not universally accepted as the appropriate term to represent what it is commonly used to describe.

This term can have another meaning depending on the context. For example, globally, the average time between two successive units exiting the work or manufacturing process comes from Lean manufacturing. To prevent misunderstanding, some Kanban professionals have started referring to the first concept as flow time.

Conclusion

Concepts, such as Lean combined with continuous delivery, allow organisations to iterate and improve more quickly while reducing cost and waste.

Today, those ideas are the heart of DevOps. Lean has its underlying foundations of DevOps. DevOps can improve customers’ perspectives in various ways, offering much more significant business value. DevOps be able to improve operations and reduce waste and lead to faster deployments, increased agility, and fewer risks.

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