A core concept to lean thinking is the ability to enhance a business’ “value” by eliminating anything that doesn’t add benefit. Unnecessary movement, costs, meetings, inventory and other aspects all increase wastage and decrease value.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) was devised to add value to businesses through improved everyday processes. If your operations are victim to processes that aren’t lean, here’s why VSM could become your secret weapon.

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What do we mean by “Value”?

“Value” is the benefit you give to the customer. It represents how well your product or service fulfils the needs of a customer, giving them as much as possible for their money.

What is Value Stream Mapping?

VSM is a lean tool used to lay out and improve the various steps in any process or project, from start to finish, as a way of visualising or “mapping” the stages. VSM isn’t limited to manufacturing processes; any industry can benefit - just find a template and edit it to suit your unique processes.

The visualisation helps you to clearly understand how information and materials flow through the stream, from order to dispatch.

How can VSM add Value to Businesses?

The good news is you don’t need expensive software to lay out a value stream map. All you need is a pen and paper to create a diagram that mirrors the steps involved in your vital business flows

It’s superior to some other lean tools in circulation for a number of reasons, including:

  • It offers a broader overview
  • It helps you to identify waste
  • It provides actionable feedback for future improvements

1. VSM offers a Broad Overview

It’s difficult to identify areas for improvement when you don’t have the full picture. Value Stream Mapping is like an advanced version of traditional process maps; it displays a broader range of information at a higher level, generally displaying 5-10 extra boxes compared to other tools.

This gives you the ability to see every step of vital processes, from the input of raw materials to the output of your finished product or service. Leaving no corner untouched (including external suppliers and customers), you can better evaluate the parts of your processes that deduct value from your business.

2. VSM can Help Identify Areas that are Wasteful

Value Stream Mapping focuses on inputs of materials, machines, information and workers, taking into account factors like environment and methods.

With this overview, you can identify and streamline the processes that don’t add value. For example, is the input of materials too high, causing the need to throw some away? It encourages the systematic use of data to draw additional insights and see how the movement of information and materials is impacted negatively.

3. Retrieve Data for Actionable Feedback

In any work process, it can be difficult to determine which area provides the most (and least) value. Stop throwing money at problems and investing in new tools, when often all you need to do is take a step back and evaluate where small improvements can be made to your current actions.

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, so create the necessary metrics for your business to measure the entire map. Then, gather a team to identify and implement methods to make improvements for the future.

We recommend putting your VSM on display for everyone involved in each process to see, as it’s most valuable in a group setting. Check the OE Partners resources regularly for tools and techniques you can use to transform your business.