Value Stream Map
What is a Value Stream Map or VSM? It is a visual process map that shows the flow and activity of a process, broken down by each step and whether the step is value added or non-value added. You might think if there is no value add to a step why is it there? Sounds counter intuitive to basic Lean principles doesn’t it?
Let’s keep it simple. The Value Stream Map helps identify opportunities for removing waste from a process. In some complex processes some steps will be identified as non-value add, but necessary. For example, if a management team funds a project to upgrade an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner) system it could be argued that before calling in consultants to map out the effort to already have an idea as to why we want to upgrade the ERP in the first place? A steering committee may have identified that an upgraded ERP system may only reap the full benefits in two years, after an anticipated acquisition. The upgraded ERP system may be already in use by the acquirer and process-mapping may be needed to optimize the best use of it. But I digress.
Let’s get back to the Value Stream Map. I feel that before any Value Stream Map team process mapping begins, that a SIPOC be already made available. The VSM is a more detailed SIPOC, in a somewhat flowchart form, using colors to identify value add, non-value add, and business or customer value-add steps.Let’s take the example of a complex process such as an airline reservation example.
The VSM should also include cycle times (or the times between each process step), what is the expected yield of defects from each step.3
The Value Stream Map is usually seen on the manufacturing shop floor and is a crucial Lean tool for optimizing manufacturing efficiency but it can also be used for inter-company processes or any process where the output delivers an output to a customer, internal or external.
iSixSigma.com sums it up well with this definition.
Value Stream Map Template for Microsoft Excel