Value Stream Mapping Provides A Fresh Way Of Evaluating Existing Processes

Value Stream Mapping Provides A Fresh Way Of Evaluating Existing Processes

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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It’s surprising how taking a long, detailed look at a well-known process can uncover challenges and opportunities previously unseen. In business, one of the ways to do this is value stream mapping.

Value stream mapping has become one of the most written about Lean tools in process improvement. That’s because it works.

In a recent piece for Forbes, Dave Wendland, the Vice President of Strategic Relations at Hamacher Resource Group, wrote about how the company put value stream mapping to use.

He wrote that value stream mapping can be “an eye-opening exercise that reveals wasted time, duplicated effort and unnecessary spending.”

What is Value Stream Mapping?

Value stream mapping provides organizations the chance to take a fresh look at an operation. It’s a Lean tool that involves creating a visual representation of a process with a detailed chart. It offers a way to document every step in a process, from initial development to customer delivery.

One of the primary goals of value stream mapping is to find areas of waste in an operation. Those wastes, as defined in Lean, are:

  • Product defects
  • Extra processing
  • Inventory
  • Non-utilized talent
  • Overproduction
  • Transportation
  • Waiting
  • Wasted motion

These issues are found by looking at every process step and determining what does and doesn’t add value to the end user. If it doesn’t add value, it’s eliminated.

Why Companies Use Value Stream Mapping

The reason why Lean Six Sigma has continued to grow is because waste in operations, as well as errors and defects, are the principle problems that most organizations face. Creating a consistent and reliable operation with little variation is a difficult process.

That’s why value stream mapping is useful in a wide range of organizations and industries, from hospitals in Philadelphia to a county jail in California. No matter what industry or specific operation, it’s imperative to first thoroughly understand the current operation. Only then can you take the steps to fix the process through targeted changes.

A Success Story

In the case of Hamacher Resource Group, which works with companies to improve the performance of retail supply chains, Wendland wrote in Forbes that the focus was on improving client quote preparation. The company wanted to eliminate bottlenecks and speed up the overall process.

Wendland outlined five steps taken during the value stream mapping process.

Interview Key Stakeholders

Hamacher wanted honest feedback. As those who use process improvement methodologies discover, implementation often offers employees the first opportunity to really talk about their role in a process and where the challenges occur. Wendland noted this is especially true of employees who have worked in a process for a very long time.

Create a Flowchart

Every key task was put into a flowchart that offered a visual representation of the overall process. Wendland said this served two main purposes: It allowed everyone to see the process in its entirety and understand “the complexity that may exist.” Second, it allowed them to color-code and identify individuals and teams involved in the process (and quickly see any duplicative steps).

Assign Time For Each Step

This involved both the time spent to accomplish a task and the wait time between tasks. The team used increments of days, but anyone can use whatever time designation works best for their operation.

Estimate Costs

In addition to time, a cost must also be associated with each step in the process. Wendland wrote that the Hamacher team created a median hourly rate to estimate the costs associated with each step of the quoting process. This was an area that can be “an eye-opening step for most,” he wrote, and offers the chance to easily see where the process is running over budget.

Identify What To Eliminate

At this point, especially with the insights gained in Step 4, the team was able to see where to eliminate or improve steps in the process. Another advantage of having a value stream map is that all stakeholders can immediately see the financial benefits of every change made.

The example from Hamacher is one of many that shows the advantages of using value stream mapping. It’s a straightforward way to find the inefficiencies and waste in an operation – as well as offering a means to make changes quickly.

The post Value Stream Mapping Provides A Fresh Way Of Evaluating Existing Processes appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: admin
Posted: September 5, 2019, 2:13 pm

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