The Value Stream Mapping Process
Value stream mapping is a useful tool to check a process for inefficiencies — in much the same way a radiologist checks an X-ray for anomalies in the body.
Identify the product or service
You start the value stream mapping process by identifying the product or service you want to analyze — in other words, which product or service that will benefit most from processes improvements. You should also decide on the scope of the map.
It might help to consider which process has the highest number of defects, the highest product volume in either dollars or units, for example. You might also choose a product or service based on factors specific to its customers or destination.
Use for standardized processes
Value stream mapping is appropriate for routine or standardized processes and can be used in manufacturing and service environments.
In manufacturing, you can map static activities or tasks — such as attaching keypads. These tasks have relatively low labor content and few alternative flows exist.
In service industries, you work with four basic flows — people, processes, technology, and time. Mapping these flows can highlight interactions and management controls, and show how changes to one of the flows impacts the other three.
For instance, in an office environment, many flows start with paper or e-mail requests. You can map the activities required for a specific service by following the progress of these requests.
Create a current-state map
Once you’ve identified the product or service to map, you create a current-state map of the value stream. This shows work processes as they are currently.
The map makes it possible to identify improvement opportunities, and acts as a baseline against which you can compare future results. Though you are focused on the current state, you need to gather data for the whole process.
Next, you assess the current state to identify sources of waste — for example, wasted time and excess inventory.
Creating a future-state map
Then, you can begin creating a future-state map. This is done to eliminate sources of waste and to balance the production line to meet customer demand. The future state map provides a strategic plan for improving a value stream based on a visualization of what you’d like a process to be in future.
To complete the value stream mapping process, you develop and implement a plan to achieve the future state you’ve mapped. Typically, areas for improvement are broadly highlighted on the future-state map.
Make the improvements
Use the value stream map to highlight the goals and objectives for the team working with the relevant processes when developing the plan.
The team reviews the future-state map to determine how to make the improvements. You can help along their progress by rewarding efficient work and improvement suggestions.
Knowing these key steps in analyzing a value stream for inefficiencies gives you a “big picture” view, which will help you and your team develop improvement plans that will have the most positive impact.