The value stream is all the steps required to bring a product or service from order to delivery. The first lean principle is to define value from the customer’s point of view. The second is to identify all the steps in the value stream and eliminate waste. How do you determine those steps?
Identifying the steps in the value stream
A value stream map (VSM) represents the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service from order to delivery. You identify value-add activities using the customer’s lenses as a reference. This visual representation helps to accomplish the goal of eliminating waste within and between processes.
The first step is to determine the scope and form the team to draw the map. You need to decide the boundaries of the VSM event to be clear about what process you will be working on. A process can start with the suppliers or the customer’s request. Similarly, it can end with the end of the process at the site or the delivery to the customer.
In general, during the VSM event the team will complete the following steps.
- Determine the process family.
- Draw the current state map.
- Determine and draw the future state map.
- Draft a plan to arrive at the future state.
Benefits of the value stream map
Drawing a VSM enables a high-level view of the process, which uncovers where the stream stops. Many times this map is the first time that people see the entire process from start to finish. Therefore, it brings clarity to what happens between departments and the challenges associated. For instance, it helps to see the materials flow and the information management as well.
The conversation around the drawing activity promotes discussions regarding efficiency, resources, and individual processes themselves. The depiction of the process crosses departmental lines, which breaks silo thinking. As a result, teamwork and collaboration drive the brainstorming process seeking improvement ideas. Furthermore, it conveys the flow of action plans to execute those ideas.
Another word about identifying the steps
Drawing the map is not the objective or the most meaningful thing of the VSM. What matters is the thinking process to identify the process steps and identify the value of each one. Moreover, the conversations around the subject, the collaboration within departments, and the clarity to see the opportunities for improvements.
In the next post, I will write more about the steps to draw the value stream map.