Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a lean management technique that helps businesses eliminate process redundancies and waste by finding ways to improve current lean and agile business processes.

What is value stream mapping (VSM)?

Organizations are always looking for ways to operate lean by reducing waste and redundancies in business processes throughout the organization. Value stream mapping (VSM) found started in Manufacturing, but it’s proved equally in the enterprise as a visual mapping technique to optimize and improve systems and processes as helpful. Implementing value stream mapping techniques, companies should be able to eliminate waste and redundancies in processes and increase customer value experiences by delivering improved methods & systems and products.

Value stream mapping, a lean management technique for analyzing the flow of materials, data associated with a given process, system or product, and other requirements, VSM requires effective communication and collaboration between the departments in the organization. For organizations that have siloed or isolated departments, encouraging more cross-collaboration between business units might be a worthwhile adjustment.

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The map of the Value stream can be time-consuming implementation, especially if you choose a complex process or product or system to analyze. The larger the project, the more people and business units that will be involved — that means you might need to plan on allocating several months, or even years, to completing and implementing your VSM strategy.

Process of VSM

Before you can start building a value stream map, you need to objectively evaluate your organization’s business processes, products and systems. Start by talking to leadership, department heads and other key stakeholders who can give you more insight into what can be improved. You’ll need to get hands-on experience with the process, product or system yourself and have other employees walk you through their part.

It’s important to collect as much data as possible — for example, any inefficiencies in the process, how many workers are involved, what resources are used and any downtime. Any potentially relevant or noteworthy data is helpful in fleshing out your final VSM flow chart and achieving insights into what can be refined or improved.

You’ll then create two separate VSM flow charts — a current state value stream map and a future state value stream map. Your current state VSM will be used to establish how the process currently runs and functions in the business. This is where you will demonstrate issues, significant findings and establish key requirements. The future state VSM, on the other hand, focuses on what your process will look like once your organization has completed all of the necessary improvements. 

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7 steps of VSM

It’s up to your organization to decide which agile or lean management framework to use, but following these seven steps will help you implement a value stream map alongside any IT management framework that you choose. Relevant lean and agile IT management frameworks include Kaizen, Lean Six Sigma, Kanban, or business process re-engineering.

  1. Process activity mapping > Establish Process Flows, identify waste and redundancies, and analyze workflow and business processes.
  2. Supply chain response matrix > Identify any roadblocks in the process using a simple diagram.
  3. Production variety funnel > Look to other competitors and industries to see what solutions they’ve discovered for similar problems.
  4. Forrester effect mapping > Create line graphs that illustrate customer demand against production to visualize supply, demand, and possible delays.
  5. Quality filter mapping > Identify any defects or problems in the supply chain.
  6. Decision point analysis > Determine the push-and-pull demand in the supply chVSMain, a process to determine production orders based on either inventory or customer demand.
  7. Physical structure mapping > A top-down overview of what the supply chain looks like at an industry-level.

Software for VSM

It is not a mandatory need to use any advanced tools or software to create a map of the Value Stream (VSM ) flow chart, it can be easily mapped one out on a whiteboard. But creating a value stream map can be a lengthy process involving multiple departments and several key stakeholders, so you might want to invest in software designed to make the process easier.

VSM software can help you create flow charts, keep everyone informed, and offer collaboration and visualization features that make it easy for everyone to stay on task. You can also find a map of value stream templates online that can help you get started with mapping out your business processes.

Here are some popular VSM software tools to help you get started:

  • Microsoft Visio
  • Smartdraw
  • Tableau
  • LucidChart
  • Visual Paradigm Online
  • Creately
  • eVSM Software
  • Edraw

Training and Certification on Value stream mapping

If you want to learn more about VSM and how to create a value stream map or implement the process into your company, you can find plenty of courses and training programs on the topic. Many are offering online courses but you can find offline courses also, and you can find some that are specific to relevant lean or agile management frameworks, such as Six Sigma and so on.

So I would like to ask your feedback and what you want to add here?

2 thoughts on “What is value stream mapping? A lean technique for improving business processes”

    1. Yes, Why not, Most welcome.

      Connect with me to share your knowledge and experience on the topics. Subscribe to the blog to get new blog posts in your mail.

      Manoj Kumar

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