Value Stream Mapping

Making Improvements That Add Value

What adds value for the customer?

© iStockphoto/ugurbariskan

Organizations continually strive for lean and efficient operations.

Particularly in the current economic climate, your company may ask you to find opportunities for lean improvement in your department or area, so that you can deliver the same value to the customer at lower cost to your organization.

However, it can be a challenge identifying where these opportunities are.

For example, you may know that you need to improve your production process, because products are coming back with defects. In that situation, what do you need to do to improve quality? One option is to put more resources into physical inspections. But will that solve the problem, or will it just add cost to a process that's flawed somewhere else?

Process Improvement

Process improvement is successful only when you address the underlying problem. A useful way of improving processes successfully is to use a lean manufacturing technique called Value Stream Mapping (VSM). It originated at car manufacturer Toyota, where they called it 'material and information flow mapping.' VSM is now widely used in a variety of industries as a way of identifying improvement projects.

The basic idea behind Value Stream Mapping is this:

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