Overcoming the Stumbling Blocks of Value Stream Mapping

In our previous article we talked about the stumbling blocks with creating a value stream map. Now we will look at ways of overcoming the stumbling block in the four key areas of getting started, pulling our team together, creating the map and then implementing the actions.

Getting Started with Value Stream Mapping

vsm workshopTo overcome the stumbling block in getting started with value stream mapping it is important to plan for the event. Event planning includes having the right data together that represent the real numbers from the previous 12 months, plus a good idea of what the next 12 months may look like.

Communication is also important; everyone, and we mean everyone within the organisation needs to know what is going on, not just the management team and participants. Use your current forums such as notice boards newsletter daily meeting and mostly review to let everyone know that value stream event is happening.

During preparation, we need to ask who is responsible for the cost, quality and on time delivery of the product stream from start to finish. Often this will cover multiple people across many departments and this is why the team composition is important.

Team Composition for Value Stream Mapping

When considering the team composition, a cross functional team is needed to cover all elements of the product or service value chain. The team needs a good leader and an overall willingness to adopt the Lean principles and be self directed, with a willingness to try, potentially fail and learn, as they construct and implement the value stream map activities.

The team members need experience in their departments functions and understand the date that sits behind their daily activities.

The team size can vary however a team of two people is not enough to draw out the content needed. To overcome this teams of 5 to 8 people give better results as a mixture of experience, diversity and understanding allow the value stream mapping process to be more grounded and broader in scope.

Creating the Value Stream Map

When we have good preparation and a good team composition, many of the stumbling blocks for creating the value stream map are more easy to overcome. At each step the team needs to understand the difference between what each process step should be and what the process actually is on a daily basis.

This is where actual observation is an important; “Go and see” is vital to ensure the whole team has a common understanding that is then recorded on the value stream map. While documenting the value chain, we will be challenged with what is actually going on in our factory – both the good and the bad. At all times the team must be respectful of the people who are doing the daily tasks. The map needs to highlight as wastes as they truly are; only then can a value stream map be effective to lead continuous improvement.

A good facilitator will also help to overcome stumbling blocks during the value stream mapping process. Their role is to keep the process on track and find a balance between getting the right information documented with our getting too stuck in details. The use of a Holding Area or Parking Lot for issues and ideas that are outside of scope or in need of further clarification can help to keep the team focussed on the value stream. These items can them be collected and reviewed after the workshop.

Implementation of a Value Stream Mapping Plan

When the value stream map is complete, it is important to brief the broader company and let everyone have the opportunity to ask questions and understand the next steps. Remember that the lean journey is a long one and the basics need to be implemented first before jumping ahead to advanced lean concepts; stability in cycle time, delivery and quality is needed first. You can read more about the Hierarchy of Continuous Improvement.

During implementation, the actions are investigated and some may not be achievable or the timeframe may not be realistic. In these cases, the value stream map needs to be updated to reflect these changes and show what is actually what is going to be implemented. Like any good plan, make sure your implementation plan is SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Accountable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

During implementation, check there is a good auditing process to check progress on a weekly basis. This needs to fit into your existing management and communication structure. If you do not have one, that will become on of the first actions to implement.

Getting Help With Your Value Stream Map

Having an experienced facilitator will help you overcome the stumbling blocks of Value Stream Mapping. This will improve the quality of the mapping process, the team interactions and the overall outcome to your business. The team at TXM work with many teams and have created many value stream maps, across a range of industries. We would love to discuss your continuous improvement and value stream mapping requirements with you!

TXM Lean Methodology: The Manufacturing Agility Process

Robert Chittenden

Author: Robert Chittenden

Robert Chittenden is a Senior Lean Consultant at TXM Lean Solutions