Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Step 2 - Value Stream Mapping.

In Step 1 we defined and prioritized specific focus areas to give major breakthrough using a road map. In Step 2, we start to change and improve each of these areas identified along the route. It’s necessary to ask more questions.

  • How can we change this area?
  • Which activity do we improve first?
  • What resources do we need?

Until you can answer these three questions, you can’t be sure you’re improving things to deliver the best results. Many organizations use a shot gun approach when deciding what to improve first. They don’t back up their decision making with data, instead they use opinion. When you’re taking employees away from their jobs to be involved in an improvement project, it’s very important to know their time is value added and not being wasted. The process we use to identify and prioritize any opportunities for improvement is “Value Stream Mapping”. It’s a process for demonstrating graphically how materials, products and information flow between suppliers, through your business operations and your customers.

Value Stream Mapping allows you to view an organization from several vantage points. It’s like looking down at the business from high up i.e. 10,000 feet. As look down at the structures, you notice some problems areas, so you move down to 5,000 feet to get a closer look. Then you move down to 1,000 feet, and so on. As you drop down lower you lose the big picture view but see a smaller part of the organization and in more detail.

  1. Choose processes identified and prioritized in the Strategy Deployment Plan. Start by drawing a high level map of your company processes. Show the main departments and their activities. Try to define as many value and non-value activities with supporting data as possible. Identify any constraints throughout the process and prioritize them based on the level of impact to achieve breakthrough.
  2. Draw a Current State Map of the process showing details of all value and non-value added activities. Collect process data to show inputs and outputs for each step of the operation. Typical types of data collected are; number of people, process quality, production throughput, inventory levels, and equipment uptime.
  3. Using the 8 wastes as a guide, identify all non-value added activities. List all of the potential opportunities for improvement and prioritize them based on cost to implement, impact to the bottom line and the level of effort required to implement them. Start with the easy changes first, then slowly work up to the more difficult ones as you gain more experience. Next, you will convert your Current State Map into a Future State Map by making all the changes necessary to improve the process.
  4. Create a Value Stream implementation plan. Determine the specific actions required to implement any of these improvements and determine who is responsible for each of these actions and the date they will be completed.

Remember, Value Stream Mapping is a journey of discovery, it is never ending. You must be open to change and willing to remain objective when uncovering the hidden waste as you work through this process.
"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." - Lao Tzu

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