Value stream mapping is a lean management technique that assists organizations with the optimization of company operations. Mapping out existing project workflows helps teams better understand the various phases of existing business processes. Organizations can also use this technique to identify and eliminate any activities within project workflows that do not contribute value to the end product or service to increase customer satisfaction.
To begin the value stream mapping process, teams must first create a current state map that depicts exactly how a process flows in its existing state. Then, teams can easily identify waste activities within a current workflow and eliminate them to optimize operations. From there, team leaders can make a future state map that depicts how the process should flow with the implemented improvements.
This technique requires team members from different departments within an organization to work together to outline each step of an existing company process to create both a current state map and future state map. This enables organizations to break departmental siloes, aiding collaborative efforts throughout the entire company.
By creating a value stream map, team leaders or managers can visually track the flow of materials and information within project workflows, helping project teams understand and improve upon existing company operations.
In this article we will outline the essential elements of a value stream map and share a few examples of value stream mapping templates using MindManager®.
How value stream mapping aids process improvement
It’s crucial for organizations to understand how value flows through company processes if they intend to stay competitive in today’s ever-changing market. Value stream mapping enables companies to understand the complexities of their value streams and take steps to continuously implement improvements.
There are a few ways that value stream mapping can benefit your organization, including:
Identifying waste activities. At the beginning of the value stream mapping process, project teams must create a current state map that accurately depicts all value-adding and non-value adding activities within a process. This enables teams to easily identify waste activities and eliminate them to enhance the workflow’s value stream.
Increasing customer satisfaction. Value stream mapping requires project teams to focus on the flow of value within a process from conception to product or service delivery. This enables organizations to prioritize the value a product or service will bring to customers. By enhancing value streams within organizational operations, companies can enhance the quality of their products and services and better satisfy the wants and needs of their customers.
Improving company culture. To create a value stream map, all inter-departmental stakeholders involved in the process that needs improvement must be involved. This enhances an organization’s cross-functional team collaboration. Cross-functional team collaboration benefits the entire organization because it helps to align entire company goals with divisional goals.
Amplifying operational efficiency. Value stream mapping visually maps out the value stream of a process, enabling teams to quickly identify and eliminate activities that do not add value to a process. By doing so, teams will be able to deliver better quality products or services to customers in a shorter amount of time, amplifying the efficiency of existing company operations.
Enabling process improvement. Value stream mapping is a useful tool for organizations that are looking to improve processes across their organization. Value stream maps depict the flow of value within a process, enabling project teams to identify improvement opportunities and implement them. Once a project team identifies waste activities that do not contribute value to the end product, they can eliminate or alter them to improve the process at hand.
Basic components of a value stream map
There are four basic components of a value stream map: the process, the information flow, the material flow, and the project timeline. Value stream maps also use a set of unique symbols to help teams visualize their operational processes.
This value stream mapping component depicts the steps with an existing company workflow. On a value stream map, the process flow should be drawn from left to right. Subtasks may be drawn left to right beneath the main process flow.
Supplier/customer. Suppliers and customers share the same symbol on a value stream map. This symbol looks like an abstract representation of a factory. When placed in the upper left corner of a value stream map, it represents the supplier. When placed in the upper right corner of a value stream map, it symbolizes the customer.
Dedicated process flow. The dedicated process flow symbol resembles a rectangle with the top section slightly separated from the bottom. This symbol represents a single department, process, operation, or automated activity with a continuous material flow.
Shared process flow. This symbol is depicted by a rectangle that is sliced at the top and has a striped border on the bottom half. Shared process flow symbols indicate that a department, process, operation, or automated activity is shared by other value stream families, departments, or groups.
Kaizen burst. A kaizen burst, sometimes referred to as a kaizen event, looks like a cartoon explosion on a value stream map. Kaizen bursts refer to a short burst of activity that is focused on solving an urgent problem.
On a value stream map, the material flow maps the flow of the materials within an existing company workflow. This starts from the moment materials are received to the point where the end product or service is delivered to the customer.
Inventory. The inventory symbol is depicted by a triangle. This symbol represents the exchange of inventory during the duration of a process.
Shipment. Shipment symbols come in a couple different forms. Shipments that contain raw materials from suppliers often come in the form of blank bubble arrows. Shipments from external suppliers are typically represented by a truck, airplane, boat, or another applicable vehicle. Each of these shipment symbols depict the movement of various types of shipments within a process.
Push arrow. When materials are pushed from one step in a process to another, it is best practice to use a push arrow, which looks like a black bubble arrow with three white squares inside.
On a value stream map, the information flow of a process is drawn at the top portion of the map. This includes all informative communications that occur within the value stream. The information flow can move in any direction on the value stream map.
Electronic information. This symbol resembles an arrow with a zig-zag in the middle. Electronic information symbols show the digital information flow including information from electronic data interchange, the internet, media, etc.
Manual information. Manual information symbols look like a diagonal arrow with a label attached to it. These symbols depict the manual information flow from conversation, reports, or memos.
Go see information. Go see information symbols on a value stream map are represented by a pair of glasses. The go see symbol refers to the act of confirming information visually during a process.
Production control. The production control symbol is a rectangle with the top sliced in half horizontally. This symbol is used to show the production control department or central production scheduling.
The timeline on a value stream map shows the waiting times and processing times involved within an existing business process. The timeline is often used by project teams to calculate both lead time and total cycle time.
Timeline. On a value stream map, the timeline symbol consists of a set of lines that depict time-related data. The process timeline should be drawn at the bottom of a value stream map to show the timely flow of an existing process.
With these basic component symbols and structures, project teams will be able to create a value stream map that accurately depicts the process flow, information flow, material flow, and timeline of any existing company process.
Utilize MindManager templates to create a value stream map
Creating a value stream map may seem complicated, especially if your organization uses many multi-layered or intertwined processes. However, by using a mind mapping solution to visualize the processes involved and how they interact, you will be able to efficiently create value stream maps for each process.
MindManagerʻs suite of customizable templates enables project teams to create, share, and co-edit value stream maps all from one central location. You can utilize pre-built mind mapping templates such as workflow diagrams, process maps, and flowcharts to create the value stream map(s) that works best for your team.
With MindManager, organizations can ensure that each team is equipped with the necessary tools to improve company value streams regardless of their physical location, thus improving operational efficiency for on-site and remote workers alike. MindManagerʻs drag and drop functionalities also make it easy for project teams to quickly assemble value stream maps, no matter their level of technical expertise.
For more complex value stream mapping, MindManager enables users to link other project documents within a value stream map. This streamlines operations by providing teams with immediate access to key information relevant to the value stream.