Value stream mapping (VSM) is an excellent tool for determining how to go about enhancing delivery chains involving complex processes. When dealing with a complicated process, you can use VSM to build a detailed view of the entire process, leading to a better understanding of it.
From the get-go, you should note that this mapping exercise’s fenceposts (start and endpoints) can vary depending on the set goals. Additionally, a company like Wisetek, for example, may elect to use several different value streams.
Value Stream Mapping – What is it?
Value stream mapping refers to a lean technique that businesses employ to understand their customer’s outlook on value and how they can deliver on it. Through it, they model the ideal experience they want their clients to get.
Its purpose is to assess how it’s adding value to the company’s products or services from a client’s perspective. To fashion value streams, the brand must start by determining what its clients consider valuable. It can use the information generated to create VSMs for each product or service on offer.
Benefits of VSM to an Organization
Although initially intended for use in manufacturing facilities, VSM has evolved to become beneficial in all businesses and industries. It’s useful in any business or niche where items/products must go through multiple phases and departments before going to the client.
Some of the benefits it offers include:
1. Identify Wastes
VSM is a powerful visualization tool that makes it possible to view work processes from start to finish. It can diagram everything that’s happening at the moment and what’s likely to occur in the coming weeks.
Using it, company owners can detect wastes that typically arise between product development and delivery to the customer. In this case, waste is anything that doesn’t add value to the end user.
By mapping or visualizing the value stream during the production process, the brand can identify activities or steps that don’t offer any value to its customers. An example in the logistics sector is the elimination of costly delays at various points and delivering a finished product to clients.
2. Align Cross-Functional Teams
VSM includes all the departmental stakeholders participating in the different product delivery phases. If done correctly, you can use it to align all your departments, ensuring they work towards a common goal.
Working with a cross-functional team implies that everyone in the organization gets to view the production process using a tunnel vision perspective. For example, if you look at a digital banking solution, you’ll realize that it involves more than a team of mobile app developers.
The team involved will need ongoing input from middleware, quality, backend, operations, and core banking experts to create the banking app solution. All these professionals must collaborate for the final solution to work as envisioned.
3. Create Efficient Work Processes
The VSM allows you to analyze information and material flows. Look at it this way; the work process decides the task, lead, and cycle times. Thanks to this data, you’re now better placed to understand areas where you’re adding value and where you aren’t.
You can, therefore, use this information to enhance the entire process linked to product delivery. In the long term, you get to relax knowing that you have used VSM to help bring about satisfying goals for the customer.
4. It Provides a Great Overall View of the Entire Process
When you use VSM to map the different areas of your company, you’ll find that it makes it easier for all involved to understand how it works. The process will offer insights into bottlenecks you may have failed to notice before.
You should look at the VSM as a storyboard that tells the story of how the company products/services make their way into customers’ hands. The visual representation of the company story will let you know which parts are necessary and which aren’t.
5. Predict Future Growth
When the VSM is complete and properly aligned, you and the other stakeholders can use it to discuss where the company is headed. The VSM will provide a comprehensive outlook on what a future version of the company will look like.
In this regard, it will assist in creating a shared objective for future growth. Moreover, a good VSM will map results in no-cost or low-cost improvements. Use the waste reduction practice to focus on removing all the items that don’t add value.
By doing this, you’ll have helped start a conversation on the steps to take in the future.
Examples of how different industries use VSM
As mentioned previously, the VSM offers a top-down outlook of the business process. Below is a look at how different industries use value stream mapping:
- Manufacturing: where VSM got its start, thanks to Toyota, which employed it to find waste in information flow and material handling processes.
- Office and Administration: to identify wasteful steps and enhance internal service provision to ensure customers get the best.
- Supply Chain & Logistics: to eliminate costly delays and wastes present in the different areas of the supply chain leading to finished goods.
- Healthcare: to boost the steps vital to treating patients in a timely, cost-effective manner while guaranteeing top-notch delivery.
- Software Development: to identify any inefficiencies in the software development process from project conception to implementation.
- Service Industries: to increase value and identify wastes in activities that must be executed to offer any service to external customers.
Profit squeeze pressures will not go away anytime soon. Consequently, organizations must systematically target improvements in employee engagement, safety, lead time, and project costs.
The only way to do this is by comprehending the relationship between the different processes. A business that employs value stream mapping in its operations can plan and monitor the introduction of lean manufacturing tools such as error proofing and SMED.
It’s what will enable it to reduce waste!