Value stream mapping is a process mapping tool used for capturing and mapping the flows of information and materials through an organization. It’s a great tool for right at the start of an improvement project when your trying to get to grips with the current business situation. While value stream mapping can be a little daunting for first timers improvement guru’s can follow our top ten list of tips to make life a little easier. Got some you’d like to share – use the comments below! Here’s the tips:-

1/ Map using pencil and paper

These days there are lots of value stream mapping software available but for first timers who may not be familiar with the software its just one extra thing to learn – remember excellent results can be obtained through traditional pencil and paper, just remember to stick with a “house style” and traditional value stream mapping icons.

2/ Don’t forget the data

Unlike other types of process mapping – value stream mapping is quite data intensive – don’t forget that you’ll need to capture process data along the way such as inventory, cycle time etc, make sure that you consider how you’ll capture your data – for example you may want to consider a data collection plan – or nominating a member of your team for the task.

3/ Take your time

There is a lot to think about when undertaking value stream mapping for the first time so be sure not to rush – create a check list of items that should be included in the map and cross them off as you go along – check out Value stream mapping guide for more information on how to run a VSM program.

4/ Don’t be shy – visit the workplace

A key element of Value stream mapping is accuracy – an incorrect VSM can lead to wrong conclusions being drawn and can waste valuable time of improvement teams. Spend time at the workface to ensure that what you map is accurate.

5/ Validate

When you think you’ve got your map complete – validate it with your stakeholders – ensure its representative of what actually happens – use this to iron out any problems with the map. Don’t take this stage for granted – get it wrong and you can find your improvement suggestions shot down in flames as stakeholders rubbish your map!

6/ Produce the as is then focus on the to be

Don’t be tempted to produce the “as is” and “to be” maps at the same time – we can all see improvements but capture them (perhaps in a list) and go back to producing your “as is” map. Remember that you may not have the whole picture until the “as is” is complete.

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