Can you see the opportunity? Value stream map

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When was the last time you looked up from the detail?

Where ever we work in an organisation we focus on the detail, the tasks you need to do in the short term to keep the job going. How often do we get the opportunity to step back and see all the processes together?

Let me introduce you to the value stream map. A value stream map was first used as a technique by Toyota to develop an understanding of how value flowed through the business. To complete the value stream map you need to start from the customer, after all, you would not be in business if they were not paying for your product or service. What do they see? How often do we provide what they want, when they want it? This is the first point on the map, we then follow the flow of value from the customer back through your process. We map the flow physically and the flow of communication, how do you know when to supply the customer? How often do you get this information and where in your business does this information come in?

As you build the map you need to ask yourself about value. We consider a step in the process adds value if it physically changes the part moving through the process, it is requested by the customer or it is done the right first time. Everything else is not considered to add value and is, therefore, a waste. It is all the waste activities we want to highlight. It is all the waste activities that are eroding your profit and we want to eliminate.

By drawing the value stream map you are providing your team with a picture of the business from where you can set objectives for the whole value stream not only isolated functions.

Setting objectives for change won’t be challenging unless you look with the eyes of the customer instead of from the view of the silo. Failure to do this will mean optimisation of one area at the potential sub optimisation of another, potentially adding more waste to the business.



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