By Tyler Ross
It’s a new year, with new organizational goals and strategies aimed to improve the value that you provide to your customers. As the month of January comes to an end, departments within an organization are settling back into the swing of things, either hiring new staff, planning projects or going about their day to day deliverables. We all know it’s difficult to stick to our New Year’s resolutions as work picks up and we lose sight of the big picture. A great way to remain focused and continue to promote continuous improvement at your organization is to adopt a Value Stream perspective which will allow you to assess the direction your company is moving in and determine where you can add value for your customers.
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is an opportunity to meet company goals and strategies aimed to improve added value for your customer. VSM enables you to map the flow of value through your current process. Having a clear vision of the value that is added through each step of your process enables you to evaluate what is working or isn’t working as part of the process. This information is key to identifying what can be added or removed in order to enhance customer added value.
Start by getting together with your team or department to draw out your future state map. All representatives from these areas should be included in the process. Drawing out the future state map is most effective when lead by a designated Process Manager who can also facilitate the start of your continuous improvement journey.
A Value Stream Map is best created by hand, using a pencil to draw out your ideal state in a group setting. It usually is too overwhelming to map the entire production or information flow if you are a larger company, so I recommend starting slow with a product mix. Don’t waste time trying to perfect your future-state with details that will be improved throughout the implementation process. It is also important to remember that Value Stream Mapping is a team exercise aimed to understand the whole process. Although you may have a continuous improvement facilitator, the process only works when key department stakeholders are all involved.
Once your group has created a clear vision of your ideal state map, you can begin to identify the action needed to reach your future state plan. As your group works together to map your future state plan, participants will begin to analyze the current process, pointing out areas for improvement. The Process Manager can facilitate gathering information about the current state and with outlining the process map. Having one person manage the process allows them to oversee the entire process from start to finish. This ensures that goals, values and materials are aligned with the actual flow of information and material from the customer’s perspective in order to ensure that value is created here. Understanding what the customer is willing to pay for the value of the service or product is crucial to the success of the improvement efforts made through mapping the Value Stream. Current state mapping requires practice. Unless you have an expert within your organization, practice and review before proceeding with a formal analysis and future plan.
Once the current-state has been mapped, one can begin to recognize areas for improvement that are required to successfully reach the future state objective.
Value Stream Mapping is a fantastic tool for your organization to use at the start of this new year to determine the organization’s goals and strategy to meet the future plan. This process allows your organization to identify non-value adding activities and highlight opportunities for improvement.
If you’re ready to start your process improvement journey or are looking to further enhancing your organization’s skills, contact us today to learn how your organization can benefit from assistance from our experienced professionals and proven training programs.