Planning the value-stream map event

Planning the value stream map event is critical for success, do not take shortcuts.

Lack of visibility and clarity are common mistakes while planning all kinds of events.  Most of the time, the reason is not enough time spent on planning.  Given that it is a strategic tool, planning the value stream map event is crucial for success.  For that reason, you should ensure to complete this step without shortcuts.  This is the second post from a series dedicated to VSM.

Aim to provide clarity while planning the value stream mapping event

Ensure clarity about what is the subject by stating the scope of the event.  Describe what triggers the process, where it starts, and where it finishes.  Also, think about regulations, policies, or critical procedures that cannot change.  Those are the limitations or boundaries that cannot be crossed or change during the exercise.  In addition, indicate the specific conditions for the process map.  Does the map is for one product or service or a family of products or services?  Are you mapping the process for new customers or existing customers?

Based on the objective of the event and the process itself, determine how you will measure success. What metrics will you use to measure progress?  Learn the process’s actual and forecasted volumes.  Furthermore, the types of tasks manual or automatics, machines, or technology used.  That information supports the mapping discussion where capacity, inventory volumes, and staff are conversation points.  Besides, you should gather relevant data to accelerate those conversations.

The VSM team for the event

During planning, you also choose your mapping team.  The team should be a multi-disciplinary group representing all the functions along the value stream.  Because the VSM is a high-level map for strategic purposes, team members are managers and above.  In other words, people who have the authority to approve changes, assign resources and change current strategies.  To facilitate effectiveness, limit the number of team members to 5-10 people.

The focus of the preparation stage is to get clarity and information.  However, that is not the only objective.  Like with any kaizen event, you need to communicate its purpose.  Gaining support from leadership before the event starts is convenient for success.  For that reason, ensure that all leaders know what you want to accomplish and why.

The facilitator must ensure that all team members have a basic understanding of value stream mapping. Also, they need to know the basics of lean manufacturing principles.  For instance, knowing what waste is, is critical to achieving the mapping objective.  If there is a knowledge gap, then it should be closed before the event.

There is more regarding the planning the value stream map event

Another activity for this stage is to determine who is the owner or champion of the value stream.  That is the person accountable for the performance of the value stream that is the subject of the mapping activity.

Other planning actions are choosing the date(s) of the event and location.  For instance, to ensure that all necessary equipment and materials are available.  In addition, to coordinate break times and snacks or lunch. 

Once the plan is complete, it is time to share it with the event sponsor and the champion.  If all agree, the next step is the event itself.  In part 3 of this series, we will address the first step of the value stream mapping event, draw, and understand the current state.

What are the steps to create a value stream map?

Value stream mapping is a high-level tool where we can see the process from request to delivery.  It is used to create strategy.

Value Stream Map (VSM) is a high-level tool used by leadership for strategic planning. It represents the flow of material and information through the value stream. It is a tool that allows you to see waste.  In addition, you can create your plan to eliminate it.  However, this is not a one-person tool.  For best results, organize a kaizen event to create the value stream map with a multi-disciplinary team.

Things to do prior to create a value stream map 

Like any other kaizen event or improvement activity, planning is critical for success.  During the planning stage, the facilitator will guide the team to prepare for the VSM event.  The preparation includes details such as team composition, scope, and limitations.  

Steps to create the value stream map

At the kaizen event, the team must complete three critical steps.

  1. Draw and understand the current state map.
  2. Design and draw the future state map.
  3. Develop the plan to arrive at the future state.

Understand what you want to accomplish before start drawing

What is the motivation or reason for wanting to do a value stream map?  Do you want to understand how the organization works from order requests to product or service delivery?  Or is there a need to learn how to serve your customers better?  The objective of the event must be clear before executing the planning phase.  

Knowing what you want to learn from the VSM facilitates the process of forming the team.  You want to have a cross-functional team of managers and decision-makers from all the areas that cover the process under study.  Remember, this process map is a high-level study of the process; the purpose is to make tactical decisions.

Planning is so crucial that I will dedicate an entire post to talk about it in detail.  More posts will follow with the different steps of the value stream mapping process.

How do you identify all the steps in the value stream?

Drawing a value stream map enables the process of identifying the steps in the value stream.

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.

  1. Determine the process family.
  2. Draw the current state map.
  3. Determine and draw the future state map.
  4. 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.

What is a value stream map?

The value stream is all the steps required to bring a product or service from order to delivery.  A value stream map (VSM) represents the flow of materials and information through that path.  This type of process map is a storyboard of how the work moves from request to receipt.  It represents a great tool to understand the current condition or state and identify improvement opportunities.  The goal is to identify and eliminate waste within and between processes.  

Characteristics of a value stream map

What makes the VSM unique is that it shows the flow of all the high-level steps depicting what it is done without showing how. The customer is front and center while drawing the value stream. This map provides a clear line of sight to the external customer and facilitates to see how each step affects the client. For instance, it allows us to see from the moment the product or service is requested to the point value is delivered.

Strategic Planning and the Value Stream Map

The first two steps for Strategic Planning are to establish the Vision and develop breakthrough objectives.  The first step is to assess the current state. The Value Steam Map facilitates to visualize where the flow stops. Therefore, it is an effective instrument to understand the current environment.

The improvement opportunities are the non-value-added steps and those points where the flow stop.  The future state map deploys the opportunities for improvement identified before achieving a higher level of performance.  This high level of performance would be part of the strategic plan breakthrough objectives. 

How to draw the map

The picture below shows how the VSM looks. It has three parts, the information flow on the top, the product flow, and the timeline on the bottom. The map uses symbols or icons to represent a process, inventory locations, transportation, information, and others.

Value Stream Map Example

The customer data box is the first thing you draw while doing value stream mapping. This box contains the daily requirements. It also shows how the information flows from the customer to your facility, using different arrow types for manual or electronic data.

The sequenced process boxes represent product flow, and the data boxes under each contain relevant metrics. For example, frequent metrics are the number of staff, process time, and lead time. Between processes, you can add the work in process inventory. Under the process section goes the timeline, which shows the lead time and the processing time. Also, you can highlight non-value-added activities to make sure that you see them as improvement opportunities.

The value stream map speaks to you

You will see where the flow stops, where you have more inventory, or more delays.  In the future state map, you will highlight those opportunities identifying them with the kaizen burst symbol.  Each of them represents future kaizen or continuous improvement event.  

To improve flow, you will remove or minimize handoffs, rework, work in process, motion, transportation, batches, and other sources of waste.  You can also implement standardization, balance work, and improve quality.  

The last step of the VSM process is to create an improvement plan. Tie each item, long-term and short-term, to an objective of your improvement strategy.  During the implementation of the strategic plan, continuous improvement events will lead the way.  The frequency of doing VSM can go anywhere from three to six months to a year.  Shorter times are better to drive action.

Value stream mapping is an excellent tool to analyze the current state of a value stream, which is the sequence of steps from request to delivery and design of the future state.  VSM is a strategic tool, while process mapping is a tactical tool.  Are you ready to work on your new strategy?

Customer value, what is, and how you define it?

The journey to transform your business into a continuous improvement enterprise should start with the definition of value. The CI business management model defines the value of a product or service from the customer’s point of view. How much your product or service is worth for the customer? What are the expectations?

How you find your customer expectations?

Only the customers themselves can tell you. There are a couple of ways to get their input, talking with them, or using social media. The best time for a conversation is right after they received the product or service. Ask about their experience. What do they like? Do they have any suggestions? Listen to what they have to say and watch their demeanor. Social media accounts are another way to receive feedback from customers. Review the comments and ratings often. You can also create polls to survey their opinion.

Customer Value Definition

The information from these three different sources will give you the value definition from the customers’ point of view. Value definition is a critical piece to start your continuous improvement quest. You will use it to classify each process as value-added or non-value-added. Value-added activities are those that transform input into output or change materials or information. In other words, the customers are willing to pay for it. Everything else is non-value-added or waste.

Example of value-add activities

When you go to a restaurant, you expect to receive in a reasonable amount of time the plate you ask for. You also expect that the staff follows any special instructions like cooking the meat the way you request it. You will pay for the food and the service without hesitation. If the restaurant messed up with your plate, that is a defect. Now they have to prepare a second plate, which is overproduction. Both things are waste or non-value-added activities. I bet that you, the customer, are not willing to pay for them.

Businesses need to complete various processes that are critical for operation but do not add value to the customers. Examples of necessary non-value added activities are hiring, payroll, and month-end financials.

Customer value and your business

The entire flow from the customer order to the product or service received is drawn using a value-stream map (VSM). VSM is a special type of flow chart where you can visualize the flow of information and materials. This map is a tool that allows you to see waste and plan how to eliminate it. How to create a VSM will be the subject of a future post.

The priority of continuous improvement is to eliminate waste. Waste elimination will create faster and bigger results. Second, it is to challenge and reduce the necessary non-value-added activities. Minimize the quantity of non-value-added steps will further improve flow and reduce costs. Finally, you will work on optimizing value-added steps.

What is process mapping?

An effective way to analyze a process is by drawing a process map. Process mapping is the activity of drawing the steps to complete a process following a specific format.  Process maps document a business process from beginning to end and enable you to identify areas of opportunity. There are different types of maps, each with a different purpose, scope, and level of detail.

The right map to use depends on what you want to do. Take a look at the different types:

  1. Value Stream Map (VSM) is a high-level tool used by leadership for strategic planning. It represents the flow of material and information through the value stream. The flow goes from customer request to product or service delivery. The goal is to identify waste within and between processes.
  2. Process Flow Map (PFM) presents the sequence of events to complete a single process in chronological order. This basic flow chart is a simple map of the inputs and outputs of the process. The purpose of this map is to document a process, analyze and manage workflows. PFM is a low-level chart used with the participation of supervisors and process owners.
  3. Swim Lane shows how the process ownership flows from one owner to another. This flow chart highlights how a process flows across company boundaries. It is useful to identify the key roles responsible for the process and how they relate to each other. Swim lane is for short-term tactical planning. A cross-functional team of process owners gets together to draw this map. 

Process maps are good tools to visualize the current state and design the future state with better processes and customer satisfaction. It is important to include the right stakeholders in the discussion and the creation of the map. Have the right people will improve the quality of information and team communication and performance.These process maps are good tools to improve processes and customer satisfaction. Including the right stakeholders for the discussion and creation of the map is important. This will improve the quality of information and team communication and performance.

Now that you know the different types of maps, you can choose the right one for your needs. Are you ready to start mapping?