Tools to Streamline Your Processes

Resulting In Enhanced Productivity and Improved Profitability

Tool of the Week: Value Stream Mapping

What it is: Value Stream Maps (VSM) are process maps with data.This is a more complicated tool than a process flow chart as it includes data to help identify and quantify waste in the process.

Benefits of Using the Tool: This is a valuable tool if the goal is to speed up the process or reduce and/or eliminate non-value added steps. This tool can be used to identify an opportunity for improvement or to create an “as-is” version of the proces and then document improvement in a future version.


How to Use It: Begin at the end of the process with the final product and then work upstream. Identify the main steps of the process and place them in sequence. Incorporate all steps including subprocesses, inspection steps, and any testing required during the process.

Include the flow of information between the steps and how communication occurs between the different processes and the customer. Is the communication via email, on the router, in person or electronic? When it comes time to collect the data, gather the following pieces of information:
– Set-up time
– Takt time (the rate which the product or service must be produced in order to satisfy customer demand within a given period of time)
– Processing Time
– Lead Time
– Percent defective and/or scrap rate
– Number of people
– Downtime
– WIP – upstream and downstream
– Batch size
– Any other data pertinent to your process

Once the data is compiled, classify each step as valuable to the customer, valuable to the business or not valuable. From this data, you have a roadmap on which steps to optimize and which to eliminate in order to reduce process lead time, increase capacity and improve overall equipment efficiency.

Real Life Example: Value Stream Mapping is a great tool for identifying where the variability is coming from in a process. I had a client who was struggling with long processing times for a particular part.

By completing a VSM, they identified steps in the process which had large sources of variation, In addition, they found communication between departments to be inadequate or in some cases, non-existent. From this data, they were able to identify which steps needed to be removed from the process and which steps needed to be optimized to reduce variation. This work resulted in a quantifiable improvement in processing times.