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What is Value Stream Mapping?

Image credit: MetaPM e-guide: 5 Technicques you should implement before adopting agile
Image credit: MetaPM e-guide: 5 Techniques you should implement before adopting agile

I recently ran my first Value Stream Mapping (VSM) excercise with a client, and thought I'd share about it here.

VSM has its origin in Lean manufacturing, and it aims to analyse an existing process flow, and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from the very start until it reaches the customer. It is also known as material and information-flow mapping. Standard symbols are used to indicate various work streams and information flows.

The key purpose of VSM is to identify which process steps add value, and which do not add value from the customer's point of view, and then minimise or eliminate this waste.

This customer value could demonstrate itself as customer satisfaction (e.g. NPS), or as a financial return for the business.

It is suitable for use in processes with repeatable steps and where multiple handovers occur.

By visualising the process steps you can increase efficiency, increase productivity, enhance communication and improve collaboration all whilst looking at things from the customer's perspective.

As an Agile Coach/Consultant you can use VSM to help redesign an organisational structure towards better value delivery through agile delivery methods.

How do you create a Value Stream Map?

You start by visualising the existing, current state of a process. There are plenty of symbols & icons you can use, and mapping complexities you can introduce. However in my role as coach, I like to keep things simple: a box for each process step, how long this step takes (cycle time), and how much time is lost between each steps (wait time), i.e. the waste. You've effectively built a timeline.

Calculating the Process Cycle Efficiency

To help work out on which process you should focus your attention first (prioritising!), you can calculate the efficiency of each process. You calculate the process efficiency by working out the total combined cycle time (when you actually work on a process), and divide this number by the total duration of the process, including waiting.

Once you have selected your priority process, the real fun begins! Working out how you can streamline things, by removing activities which don't add value for the customer.

What are the different types of waste?

There are 7 types of waste. It would be amiss not include them in the post:

  1. Faster-than-necessary pace: creating too much of a good or service that damages production flow, quality, and productivity.

  2. Waiting: any time goods are not being transported or worked on.

  3. Conveyance: the process by which goods are moved around.

  4. Processing: an overly complex solution for a simple procedure leading to poor layout and communication, and unnecessary motion.

  5. Excess Stock: an overabundance of inventory which results in greater lead times, increased difficulty identifying problems, and significant storage costs.

  6. Unnecessary motion: ergonomic waste that requires employees to use excess energy

  7. Correction of mistakes: any cost associated with defects or the resources required to correct them.

You'll find some of these apply more in a production setting, than service delivery.

I just scratched the surface with this post! I used this, this, and this as sources for this post, and recommend you have a further look if you want to find out more.


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