Value Stream Mapping VSM FAQs

1. What is Value Stream Mapping?

The Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a simple but powerful Lean technique that is used for visualization and analysis of the flow of materials/ processes and information through mapping. The output of the mapping, value stream maps, provides a picture of the entire work processes, showing both value and non-value adding activities. Instead of taking a haphazard approach to lean implementation, VSM enables a more systematic and sustainable approach. VSM is also sometimes referred to as road-map or blueprint for lean transformations.

VSM looks at the full, end-to-end process pictorially using simple icons. It enables the visualization of how information and materials flow through all of the activities that occur from the time an order is placed, to the time the product or service is delivered. It starts with customer needs, shows how and when information is received, to the end where the product or service is delivered to the customer, as well as information flow and communication processes affect the whole flow.

By looking at the entire end-to-end process, VSM identifies non-value added steps and bottlenecks, thus enabling systematic elimination of these waste. The value stream maps become the baseline for improvement initiatives that eliminate no-value, wasteful activities.

2. What is the history of VSM?

VSM originates from car manufacturer Toyota, where they called it Material and Information Flow Mapping. It was pioneered by Taiichi Ohno, and Shigeo Shingo. However, it was Mike Rother and John Shook who made the technique popular to the world through their book Learning to See: value-stream mapping to create value and eliminate muda.

3. How does Value Stream Map differ from other mapping techniques such as business process mapping, flow charting or layout diagram?

VSM is a pictorial representation of every process in the material and information flow, along with key data. It differs significantly from tools such as business process mapping, flow charting or layout diagrams because it includes information flow as well as material flow. VSM is usually drawn in reverse, from customers up the stream towards suppliers. The need for genuine and real time data collected from the ground is also more important in VSM compare to other mapping techniques for the value stream map to be useful. This is because the actual ground data usually is shockingly different from that was estimated or calculated by the executives who thought they know the data at their finger tips.

4. What are the steps involved in Value Stream Mapping?

Step 1 – Identify the target product, product family, or service.

Step 2 – Draw current state value stream map, which shows the current steps, delays, and information flows required to deliver the target product or service. This may be a production flow (raw materials to consumer) or a design flow (concept to launch

Step 3 – Analyze the current state VSM in terms of creating flow by eliminating waste.

Step 4 – Draw future state VSM.

Step 5 – Implement the future state.

5. Is VSM applicable to non-manufacturing?

Although VSM is often associated with manufacturing operations, it can be used in any industry or environment to identify opportunities for improvement. It has been used with great success in areas such as:
– Service industries such as banking, finance and hospitality,
– Logistics and supply chain,
– Healthcare,
– Maintenance Repair Overhaul operations for automotive, aerospace and marine industries,
– Software and product development.
– Government and military
– Administrative and support functions of organizations such as sales, accounts, customer service and human resource (both manufacturing and service industries).

6. Is it better to use paper-and-pencil or software for value stream mapping?

The goal is to create a map, with minimum delay, while observing the target process in situation. Thus, value stream maps are usually drawn by hand in pencil to keep the mapping process simple and allow for simple and speedy correction. Usage of software at the initial stage of VSM is not recommended. Paper, pencil and post-it tag is recommended from the initial draft through to the completion of the finalized map.

Once the map is confirmed with all the information and data, software tools may be used to digitize for easy storage and formal presentation, although is not a must. Most companies, however, still prefer to leave the value stream maps on their walls in its original form and update it as and when required.

7. How long does it take to learn and master VSM skills?

It about takes 2 days to learn, but a whole life to put to master. There is no short cut to learning and mastering value stream mapping skills, the only way is to keep practicing it!