Value Stream Mapping

What if

  • What if you could identify “noise” in a project and eliminate it.
  • What if you find ways to help people do the jobs they are already doing in a more efficient and effective way.
  • What if you simultaneously improves the launch execution capability and raises the level of innovation activity.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a mapping method for understanding the sequence of activities used to produce a “product”. VSM is used to define and analyze the current state for a product value stream and design a future state focused on identifying sources of non-value added time (like unnecessary processing) and as well identifying opportunities to increase efficiency (lead-time, workflow). The need to improve workflow and reduce waste is relevant not just for production processes, but also for supporting processes and knowledge-based processes. VSM will find ways to help people do the jobs they are already doing in a more efficient and effective way, then they can deliver higher quality work. VSM is challenging the way of doing things.

One of the signs can be that projects are taking longer than estimated. A first glance will be to review previous finished projects and check the duration of the projects (review the date that is available) e.g. how many months were estimated at first, then again what was estimated after the first milestone review and then what was the actually duration when the product was introduced. Below is illustrated a case study I analyzed where the pre-investigation phase and concept phase took much longer than estimated and delayed the product launch.

At the same case study a bigger investigation was initiated and all previous projects showed the same result – longer developing times and again pre-investigation phase and concept phase are taking much longer than estimated.

Why are these two phases taking longer than estimated. It’s important to look closer at the pre-investigation phase and concept phase and get a real picture of the current state what is going on. By mapping out the current state will help to see where the e.g. delays, bottle necks, missing/lack of project information etc is and it will be easy to create a future map and hereby develop a better development process for the organization by reducing or removing the existing ‘noise’ and waste. In this case story I took a closer look, at the prototype process together with the project team and started to break down the process by looking at the existing prototype process and data. When mapping everything out a lot of important information appeared from the project team – e.g. prototype team was waiting days for the dwg’s/files to produce the prototypes, prototype center were missing information about the requested prototype so couldn’t make the a prototype right away or a second version of a prototype was requested before the first was finished and evaluated. Prototype Process:

Current State Prototype Process:

Possible Loops:

One of the learnings were the lack of shared decisions information/communication at the front end of the process. Shared information increases the teams overall understanding of a project, the requirements they must meet and their interfaces with other teams (who is depending on who). Another finding in the case study was the importance of shorten the iterations time of the proof of concept (‘takt time’),  which was easily solved by lowering the quantity of the requested prototypes. It is much faster to make 1 prototype and then test/review it and then make a new prototype based on the learnings from the previous prototype.

Future state prototype process flow was now created based on the learnings from mapping out current state. The new prototype process is now a much more efficient flow.


Also published on Medium.

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