7 Basic Steps to Mapping a Value Stream, Part II
In Part I of this series, we discussed what a value stream is and why it’s important to map, as well as the first few steps in the process. Now, we’re covering arguably the most important phases of value stream mapping — steps 5, 6, and 7 — which will help you get familiar with the basics of this fundamental lean manufacturing process.
Step 5: Identify improvements ☑️
Identify problem areas and decide how to make improvements. The time you spent on step one, writing down all the individual activities that comprise the production process, really comes into play here. It would be too daunting to look at the process as a whole and attempt to make improvements that way. Mapping a value stream allows your team to pinpoint steps that aren’t pulling enough weight. Those tiny adjustments will add up, resulting in significant changes to the overall production process.
Step 6: Execute improvements ⚙️
Now it’s time to take action. In the previous step, your team created a plan for change; in this step, you will implement it. The plans don’t mean anything until you apply them to the production process. After all, making positive changes is why you mapped a value stream in the first place!
Step 7: Implement KPIs 🔍
In the final step, your team must add key performance indicators (KPIs) to the value stream map. These indicators make the improvements measurable and keep the production process on track toward your goals. They should only focus on eliminating waste.
Don’t forget to observe how these changes affect the production process by following the product or service from start to finish. Although many steps contribute to the production process, you should only pay attention to the ones that interact directly with the product because they will benefit the most from cutting waste and improving efficiency.
Recognize the importance of value stream mapping
Manufacturers benefit from mapping value streams in many ways. Here are just a few:
- Process repeatability becomes easier, along with the creation of SOPs.
- Process-specific goals become more focused and understood.
- Better processes save money and increase revenue.
- Bottlenecks won’t disrupt the production process.
- The production process will become more efficient.
Now that you’ve learned all the steps for mapping a value stream, it’s time to create your own. It takes practice, so you should create new maps for the value stream in the future by revisiting the map on a regular basis and continually adjusting the production process. Parts of the process can change over time, and you’ll want to make sure this doesn’t affect efficiency.