Using Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to its full potential puts your business in a strong position to make significant improvements on everyday processes. By monitoring your processes from input to output and keeping track of how people, resources and information flow throughout, you’re able to highlight delays to productivity and implement improvements based on your findings.

Think of it as your map & compass that will lead you to long-term business success and lean business processes.

A VSM is made up of standard elements and icons, for a visual overview of every step. By keeping a close eye on each element, operators can analyse flows, identify bottlenecks and measure improvements.

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To make the most of your VSM, there are 4 ongoing stages you should honour.

How to Use Value Stream Mapping to Drive Continuous Improvement

1st Stage: Understand the Current State

Conduct VSM training for your team, so they can understand how elements work together in your specific workplace. Choose a cross-functional team that can cover all parts of every mapped process, that have a good knowledge of that business area.

For accurate mapping, physically walk through the workflow and document all materials and information within it, identifying any communication points within the process. When creating the map, keep it as accurate as possible and don’t skimp on detail.

2nd Stage: Analyse the VSM

Gather the team to look over and review the Value Stream Map to make sure it properly reflects real life processes.

Start to identify where losses and delays occur and try to ignore artificial boundaries. Are there any barriers to flow that don’t need to be there? Measure how much these barriers affect productivity and costs, and think of ways you can improve on or overcome them. When developing solutions, consider the root cause of the problem.

Add the proposed changes to the VSM or in a separate “Future State” VSD - Value Stream Design.

3rd Stage: Create a Future State Value Stream Design and Implement Improvements

Involve all required stakeholders to the create a future state map, or Value Stream Design. Allow them to review the changes and then proceed to implementing suggested improvements. All changes in training, materials and processes should be included - omitting anything here will just lead to barriers in the future.

Implement changes based on priority; begin with the improvements that will have the greatest benefit on the company’s value, and document everything you do.

4th Stage: Sustain

Establish how you want to measure improvements in cost and performance by setting relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). That way, you can verify and validate change and monitor whether your suggested improvements are having the impact you’d hoped.

Ensure that all stakeholders adhere to the set changes, so you can institutionalise new processes across your organisation.

VSM is an effective tool for significant, continuous improvement but it requires ongoing monitoring to identify new areas that cause restrictions. For optimised processes and long-term business survival, OE Partners can collaborate with you and transform your business.