Understanding your company’s “Value Stream” is an important part of your Lean Manufacturing journey, regardless of what type of products you are making or services you are offering. Today we will look at stumbling blocks when using the Value Stream Mapping approach in your business.
The Value Stream that runs through your company is the series of processes that add value to a product which a customer will then pay for. In many manufacturing environments, the manufacturing value stream is listed in the work order or traveler – those steps that need to be done in the right order to make the product.
Value Stream Map is used to gain a broader understanding of the entire process, that builds on the manufacturing value dream and expands to include the entire cycle, from a customer placing an order, to purchasing materials, making the product the then shipping to the customer. The task of creating a value stream map helps to generate ideas for process improvement, builds stronger communication, and documents a process for all to see.
Creating a Value stream map is a straight forward process but there are frequent stumbling blocks that can upset or slow down the process. Here are the most common stumbling blocks that TXM consultants have experienced over past projects, across each stage of creating a value stream map.
Stumbling Blocks When Getting Started
- Participants feel the answer is already known before the map is created; this is a fundamental problem when embarking on the exercise in the first place
- Not determining the product process families before starting, or having the right data collated
Stumbling Blocks with the Team Composition
- Varying level of experiencing within the group
- The map is created by a small team of one or two people, or only 1 or 2 people within a group contribute
- Lacking an experienced leader and company representative in the first few events
Stumbling Blocks While Creating a Value Stream Map
- Not looking and listening at the place where value is created
- Collecting too much detail in some areas and not enough in other areas, resulting in an unbalanced map
- Missing or uncertain steps on the map
- Spending too long or becoming bogged down the details.
- Using unclear terminology with Value Stream Mapping conventions and symbols
Stumbling Blocks During Implementation
- Map too complex for the everyone to understand
- Jumping to advance lean concepts such as Total Preventative Maintenance (TPM), or Kanban without basic building blocks of 5S and visual management in place
- Not updating the map when changes are needed
- Not implementing agreed actions created from the value stream map
- Not sharing the maps in common areas for employees to see and review
When done correctly the value stream map becomes a central piece to hold conversations around. As many of us in the manufacturing industry prefer visual information over our other senses, it feeds that need and provides a stepping stone to creating a common understanding of the business as well as the value stream itself. As the map is used to develop a vision for the future of the company it can be used to communicate to the wider company about what has been achieved, discovered, considered and decided to act upon. It is a powerful tool to educate others and help them feel part of the change process as it unfolds.
When you are considering your team for your next value stream mapping activity, remember that there are many benefits in addition to just a colourful map, so give those key people a chance to participate in this important process. In the next article, we explore how to minimise, or overcome these common stumbling blocks when creating a value stream map.