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Step by Step guide to Value Stream Mapping

Introduction to Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is a tool commonly used in lean continuous improvement programmes to help understand and improve the material and information flow within organisations. Value Stream Mapping borne out of lean ideology captures and presents the whole process from end to end in a method that is easy to understand by those working the process - it captures the current issues and presents a realistic picture.

Through a simple to understand graphical format, future state (a diagram showing an improved and altered process) can be formulated and defined. The method encourages a team approach and through the capture of performance measurement data provides a mechanism to constructively critique activity. Participants in the activity are encouraged to suggest improvements and contribute towards and implement an action plan.

As with any lean management toolset the principle aim of Value Stream Mapping is to improve processes. This is achieved by highlighting areas of waste within a process and therefore enable businesses to eliminate these activities. Value Stream Mapping also has the benefit of categorising process activity into three main areas - value add, Non value add (but necessary) and waste.

While Value stream mapping isnt overtly complicated it does benefit from some preplanning it is important that for example a house style is developed using common graphics for use in the diagrams so that everyone participating does so in a common language . You need to ensure you consider including the following:

* Material Flow
* Inventory
* Buffer stock
* Suppliers, Customers
* Material Transport
* IT System
* Information Flow

To help illustrate the Value Stream Map weve developed a scenario that describes the process

John Smith works for ABC Company in charge of production. ABC company makes widgets and supply these through several retail outlets. Recently problems have emerged where there is a shortage in supply to the retail outlets (in fact several have had stock out situations). In addition to this John has had an email from his Finance Director querying the high levels and value of inventory that the organisation currently has. Finally when he checks his morning post he sees a letter of complaint to the company from a customer stating that as a frequent consumer of the products, hes dissatisfied at the quality of the product and that he often returns faulty widgets to the retail outlets. Johns unsure how to answer to these questions but he intends to get to the bottom of it and if possible improve the situation.

Step 1 - Select your sponsor and set expectations

As with any project, it is important that a sponsor or champion is appointed this needs to be someone who can make decisions, arbitrate solutions, and plan the project. The sponsor will usually select the processes that will be mapped and will usually have a firm grasp of what achievement is being targeted.

Scenario Part 1
John Smith appoints himself sponsor as production manager he has the power to arbitrate decisions and is able to provide impetus into the program to ensure that its completed and has the right buy in from the workforce. He has three main targets that he hopes to achieve through his Value Stream Mapping exercise Understand the optimum stock levels for production, ensure that output meets demand, improve the quality of the product to the customer.

Step 2 - Select your team

The make up of the VSM team is crucial and it is imperative that you adopt a team approach. You should ensure that each area or stakeholder of the process is represented e.g. Sales, Purchasing, Warehouse etc

Scenario part 2
John has a team of ten staff drawn from various disciplines, hes included members of his production team, staff from Procurement, Finance, Stores and IT prior to commencing the program John held a kick off meeting to explain the current issues the Value Stream Mapping strategy and his objectives.

John establishes the VSM activity as a Project (he brands it Project Omega) and organises a project room that is to be used by the team for brainstorming and displaying the end results.

Step 3 -Select process to be mapped

Value Stream Mapping is suitable for most businesses and can be used in Manufacturing, Logistics, Supply Chain and some Service orientated Organisations.

Scenario Step 3 John targets the organisations production process to be Value Stream mapped

Part 2 - Value Stream Mapping how to guide.


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