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Stream Mapping

How Could A Value Stream Map Of Your Business Improve Performance?

When a business is looking to improve efficiency and productivity there are many different avenues that the business could take. This could include looking at internal KPIs and corrective actions or it could be an idea to take a step back and look more holistically at the process from start to finish and see where the opportunities or low hanging fruit is.  A really great tool to do this is a value stream map (VSM) which may sound complicated but doesn’t have to be.

What Is Value Stream Mapping?

When you think of any process (even the simplest), there is always a start and finish point with many steps in between. How things progress along these steps may not be fully understood by all and assumptions made.  What a VSM activity really does for you is allow you to map out on a large board or paper every single step (or operation) from start to finish and take a step back.  You would then add a level of work in progress (WIP) to this to show what is expected to go through this in line with customer demand.  Taking a step back once completed will then allow you to see visibly if there are any bottlenecks in the process.  This can then allow you to take corrective action which could be increasing resource or efficiency at that particular process or even removing it in totality if it is considered waste.  Once mapped out, you can even convert the information from the VSM onto a computer that would run a simulation to show how things should move in a lean and smooth way.

How To Facilitate This

Depending on the size of your business you may in fact already have people internally with the appropriate skillset to facilitate this sort of activity. Generally, you will find people that are lean six sigma qualified have either been involved or lead a VSM before. If you haven’t got the internal capability it could be an option to look at organization design consulting services. These external organisations have the skillset and resources in order to help look at the current value stream as it is and then recommend improvements.  Committing the right level of resource and time to a VSM is really important or it could potentially become a “tick in the box” exercise and not as effective as it should be.

How To Sustain Improvements

Once the VSM is completed and the improvement actions all implemented, it is then important to ensure that you see the business performance improvement that is expected.  This can generally be gauges through the company Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) however you may need to tweak these in order to be more specific.  It is really important that the VSM is then revisited regularly in order to see any other potential opportunities.  Effectively a VSM should almost be like a working document.


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