Where is the value in Value Stream Mapping?

All businesses provide a product or service of some description. Where some expand and thrive while others fail may be down to various factors, but business efficiency will almost certainly play a role, especially when it comes to successfully scaling up.

Optimising efficiency around how a business develops its products or services from inception to delivery is what Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is all about. The ‘lean’ management method involves breaking down the process in a visual way and identifying where there may be weaknesses that can be addressed and opportunities to take advantage of.

This may be finding a way to speed up a process or even slow one down to better align the various cogs in motion. Naturally, this is of benefit to the business, but also to the end-user or client, who is likely to have an improved experience or product as a result.

VSM can be applied to almost any process in any business sector – and even in day-to-day life. The challenge is finding and following through on the opportunities the map reveals.

Where to Begin
A value stream map breaks down each key step in a specific business process, to visually represent the flow of all involved operations, materials and information, and time throughout the process, from the beginning right through to the point of product or service delivery.

The first step in the jigsaw is to decide on the particular service or product you wish to put under the microscope and map the status quo by breaking down the process into clear and accurate metrics. Depending on the process being analysed, these metrics are likely to include lead time, process time, and volume of work at each step along the way, as well as the communication flow, activity ratios, and the people and departments involved. This data can then be represented on a map to illustrate how operations are carried out at that moment in time.

The value stream map then becomes a resource that can be analysed for weaknesses and opportunities.

Next Steps
The aim of lean management is to remove what is generally referred to as ‘waste’ from the process by mapping out what is, and is not, adding value to the business. Once you have your initial map, finding where there are weaknesses or ‘wasteful’ processes can often be straightforward. 

The map may show where employee time is being spent needlessly, or it could reveal that a business is producing excess stock that could be cut down to save on storage space.

Having identified where improvements can be made, a new, aspirational value stream map can be drawn up incorporating where the process can improve. As Albert Einstein said, “You can’t use an old map to explore a new world”. The final step is to devise a plan on how to reach this point.

The Best Team
Closing the gap between your initial value stream map and where the process can improve is usually achieved by appointing a project sponsor, who helps to outline the project objectives and parameters, as well as a project lead supported by a capable team who works together to deliver your goal.

A successfully completed VSM project means that one intricate business process has been refined and optimised. The opportunity is then there to examine another part of the business that could be fine-tuned using VSM. As a business scales and its processes, products, and services develop and grow, repeat mapping exercises are recommended to keep refining business operations and ultimately profitability.

Aspira’s team of experts helps our clients to use Value Stream Mapping to optimise their business processes. For more information and to get in touch with Damien and his team or visit Aspira Advisory Practice.

Damien Kearns - Head of Advisory

Damien Kearns - Head of Advisory

Damien is the Head and Principal Consultant for developing the Advisory line of business and leading the team for the delivery and execution of consultancy engagements. Advisory Services include PMO Audits, PMO Set up and Governance, Project Audits, Project Initiation, Project Maturity Assessment, Project Mentoring, Project Recovery and Project Scheduling.

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