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Value Stream Mapping
The Value Stream Map (VSM) is the Lean process mapping technique. With this map, the Lean Six Sigma team will know which steps are directly contributing to delivering the customer value aspects of the process. It also provides the foundation for deeper flow analysis.
When to use
The VSM is first created in the Measure phase with the “As-Is” map showing the current process. The data from the VSM is analyzed in the Analyze phase. The proposed improvements in the process flow are modeled in a “To-Be” VSM during the Improve phase.
The VSM is focused only on the steps required to deliver the process results to the process customer. It shows the straight-line flow from process start to customer delivery. It does not include any branches or loops since once a branch or loop occurs, the item in the process is no longer flowing towards the customer. The VSM will also include a data box with data concerning each step. The data box will be covered in another module.
When completing a VSM:
- Create with the SIPOC for the process. Ensure the final step is the delivery of the process results to the process customer.
- Starting with the final step, work backwards by identifying the step that must occur immediately before the current step. Include steps to move the item to the current step. Don't forget steps that reflect getting approval to proceed to the next step.
- Ignore any branches or loops, only map the straight-line flow of the item towards the customer.
- Continue until you reach the first step in the process.
- “Walk” the process to ensure that every step that is currently performed is in the process and steps (even though they may be in the procedure) that are not normally performed are not in the VSM.
Hints & tips
- Every step should have an action associated with it, not just a location.
- Assume that every step is completely successful on it first try – any rework, repair or scrap will be captured in the data for that step.
- Map what is actually occurring, in the order it occurs. Not what the procedure says.
- If there is no procedure, there will probably be multiple ways of doing the process. Pick the most common one and map it. Note the other approaches, they may be good starting points for ideas on improvements.
- Capture every action – watch for the “in between” steps that are often overlooked.
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