Value Stream Mapping (VSM)
The LEAN approach to Process Improvement is to recognize the 8 WASTES (muda) in every process. Before these wastes can be effectively removed or reduced through efforts like Kaizen, it is important to assess the whole flow or Value Stream. Seeing the whole flow will enable good decisions by a team trying to assess real needs and priorities.
8 Wastes of lean:
Most organizations have precious few resources to spare pursuing gains that are incremental at best and detrimental at worst. A Value Stream Mapping assessment will create visibility of the needs of the system not just a singular process in the value stream. It will provide a host of improvement targets that can benefit from Continuous Improvement events or activity.
The first step is to choose a Value Stream, typically within the walls of a plant or office. (yes, Value Stream Mapping works in the office too!) Next we form a VSM team.
Typically during a 3 day event, the team will begin the event by walking the flow of information and materials, going to the “Gemba” (the workplace) to personally observe Value Added and Non-Value Added activity (8 wastes). The team will capture important data like inventory, cycle times and other performance metrics. They will make note of the opportunities for improvement. After collecting all this information we draw this out as a Current State Map.
Next the team itemizes on the map the improvements that can be made. These are called “Kaizen Bursts” and represent the harvest of the assessment.
After that the team defines what those changes could mean in 6 months or so. They ask themselves specific opportunity questions about Flow, Kanban, Cellular, etc. It re-draws the map as if the Kaizen bursts have been done and the improvements have been implemented. This is called the Future State Map.
Lastly, the team captures all the bursts and prioritizes them into an action plan assigning owners and dates. This becomes the Implementation Plan.