What Is Lean Value Stream Mapping And How It’s Useful?

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This article is an introduction to Lean Value Stream Mapping and how it can help your business

Here you will learn what Lean Value Stream Mapping is, the benefits of using this technique, and why anyone would use this strategy.

Lean value stream mapping

Lean value stream mapping (LVSM) is a methodology for managing product and process flows.

What Is Lean Value Stream Mapping And How It's Useful

But exactly, what is lean value stream mapping? It helps identify and resolve waste, by connecting products and services to customers through flow diagrams and eliminating unnecessary steps in the process.

While Lean value stream mapping is a powerful tool for streamlining processes, it is not exclusively used for that purpose.

Many organizations find that Lean value stream mapping can be used to improve customer satisfaction by identifying problems early and resolving them quickly. 

How do you create a lean value stream map?

To create a Lean value stream map, you first need to figure out what constitutes a “step” in your process.

How do you create a lean value stream map

This depends on your specific industry and products, but generally speaking, each step involves completing one or more tasks that have inherent cost and/or quality implications.

Next, you need to identify all of the inputs and outputs for each step in your process. These inputs and outputs can come from various sources, including suppliers, customers, human resources, and manufacturing processes.

Finally, you need to categorize each step based on its type of input and output

For example, you might group steps that involve making products together under one category (such as “manufacturing”), steps that involve handling customer data under another category (“customer service”), and so on.

This categorization will help you better understand which steps are likely to have bottlenecks and how best to manage them.

How is it useful?

Lean value stream mapping (LVM) is an effective tool for improving process flow and aligning activities with customer value.

It helps identify where waste exists and how to eliminate it. LVM can be used in any type of business but is particularly helpful in service industries where customers are sensitive to delays in delivery or poor quality.

The key to success with LVM is to avoid becoming wedded to a specific methodology. Instead, use it as a tool to help you understand your business better and identify areas for improvement. 

The following general tips will help you get started with LVM:

1. Define your customer's value proposition. This will help you understand what services your company provides and how the customer should expect them to be delivered.

2. Map the process steps involved in providing that value to the customer. This will help you identify where wastes occur and how they can be eliminated.

3. Analyze your data to see where changes in process or product performance correlate with changes in customer satisfaction ratings. This will help you identify areas where you need to provide more value to your customers.

Benefits of lean value stream mapping

Lean Value Stream Mapping (LVS Map) is a tool that helps identify and reduce delays or wasted steps in the value stream. It's typically used in manufacturing settings, but can be applied to any type of business process.

How is it useful

By understanding where products are being produced, shipped, sold, and delivered, companies can optimize their processes and reduce waste.

There are several benefits of Lean Value Stream Mapping:

1. Improved visibility of the value stream: With Lean Value Stream Mapping, it becomes much easier to track and understand the flow of products from category to category and from step to step in the process. 

This information is essential for making informed decisions about redesigning product lines or increasing efficiency across the entire value stream.

2. Reduced cycle time: By identifying areas where cycle time is excessive or delayed, companies can make better decisions about how to speed up production or even abandon steps altogether. 

Reducing cycle time can save both money and time, especially when it comes to custom products or high-value items.

3. Increased quality: By reducing waste along the way, companies can also ensure that their products meet standards set by clients or regulatory bodies. 

4. Revenue growth: As processes become leaner, companies can reinvest additional resources into producing goods that generate higher levels of value for customers.

Cost savings reduce cycle times and turn mountains of waste into new profits to invest in growth or rewards for employees.

5. Reduced environmental impact: Lean production is often good for the environment too – not just because it reduces costs today but also because it sets precedents moving forward. 

By eliminating excess inventory, companies can decrease how much they need to procure, haul and store while also reducing energy consumption, and emissions and even boosting local economies.

6. It can help identify and resolve customer complaints more quickly and efficiently.

By understanding where products or services come from – from conception to customer delivery – organizations can identify problems before they become customer complaints.

People are more satisfied when things are on time and their needs are taken care of instead of complaining about service problems later.

7.  It can improve the overall understanding of capacity resources by individuals, divisions, or industries. Knowing exactly where all of the capacity is located in an organization can lead to more efficient decisions and better planning tools.

How does a value stream map contribute to project management?

A Value Stream map is a great way to help manage projects by identifying and mapping out the steps and activities that are necessary to complete a project.

By understanding the flow of information and materials throughout the project, you can ensure that all steps are completed in an orderly and efficient manner.

Additionally, a Value Stream map can help identify potential bottlenecks and problems early on in the project, allowing you to address them before they become major issues. 

Helpful tips for lean value mapping

There are a number of different types of LVM, but the most common is the product flow model.

How does a value stream map contribute to project management

In this type of LVM, the value stream is divided into five steps: procurement, production, delivery, installation, and maintenance. Each step is then divided into several different activities. 

One of the most important aspects of a good LVM is stakeholder alignment

This means that all stakeholders—from employees working in the various steps of the value stream to customers who receive products—must understand and agree on what needs to be done in order to produce a quality product.

Without stakeholder alignment, it can be difficult to make changes or improvements to the process. 

Another key element of a good LVM is flowcharting. This helps managers see how products move through the system and how defects are introduced. It also allows them to identify areas where improvement can be made.

If you're looking to streamline your organization's value chain and improve efficiency, then you should consider using a lean value stream mapping (VSM) tool. Here are some extra tips for success in using lean value stream mapping: 

1. Define your business goals. Before starting the mapping process, it's important to understand what you're trying to achieve. This will help you prioritize the tasks and items on the map. 

2. Establish a team structure. Mapping can be a complex process, so it's important to have the right resources in place. Team members should have different skill sets and be able to work together as a cohesive unit. 

3. Survey your current process. Once you know your goal, it's time to get started surveying your current process. This will give you a good starting point for creating the VSM map. 

4. Identify and categorize flows of information. When identifying flows of information, try to categorize them according to their importance or impact on the business goals

This will help you identify which processes need more attention and resources. 

5. Map out critical paths and loops in your process. Once you've identified all the flows of information, you can begin mapping out critical paths in your process. 

Think about the bottlenecks that may exist and where the bottleneck is or which output has a large impact on another area of the process. 

6. Determine high-risk areas with large impacts on business goals. You also need to determine if there are any high-risk areas that have large impacts on your business's goals and how these areas could be improved 

7. Identify improvement opportunities

Once you've identified all the high-risk areas, it's time to identify possible improvements by looking at things such as wasted resources and skills gaps, skill mismatches between processes or departments, process bottlenecks, and so forth.

Final words: What is lean value stream mapping and how it’s useful

In conclusion, lean value stream mapping is a process that helps organizations identify and eliminate waste throughout their value chains. Doing so, it can help to improve the overall efficiency of an organization and reduce costs.

While lean value stream mapping is not a silver bullet, it can be extremely useful in helping businesses to optimize their processes and become more effective.

If you're looking for ways to streamline your business operation, give lean value stream mapping a try!

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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