The Blog

The value stream is defined as a continuous series of steps taken to provide the product or service to create value for the customer. Every business has a process they follow in order to deliver the customer experience promised and value stream mapping helps to improve and optimize the process. The materials and information required from different departments of the organization to deliver the promised product by documentation and analysis is done in value stream mapping. 

Organizations who want to constantly improve their processes to provide exceptional customer experience can implement value stream mapping (VSM) to see magnificent results. Here are the steps to be followed:

Step 1 – Define the objective of VSM in your organization 

Based on the objective, identify the business process for value stream mapping. Examples of objectives in software development are improvement in quality, improvement in efficiency, improvement in governance and compliance, improvement in speed. 

After deciding the objective, establish the start and end point of mapping. It is essential to know the start and end point in order to work towards reaching the destination and tracking the progress on the same. VSM is not methodology specific and works well with Agile, Waterfall, hybirds, DevOps, CI/CD, etc. 

Step 2 – Select the team

Select employees in relevant positions from different teams who can direct their teams to make necessary changes to achieve the VSM objective. It is important only to have minimal number of people in the VSM team. 6-10 team members are ideal in a VSM team of an organization irrespective of the industry it is in. 

Step 3 – Gemba walk 

All the VSM team members should visit their customers office to understand the reason for their requirements of the products and services that you are offering. This gives a holistic picture to carry out value stream mapping as you can understand the working process of your customer’s business. The facts and figures needs to be collected from where the work is happening.

Step 4 – Outline the VSM process

Outline the basic process of value stream management for the chosen objective. This brings forth focused and high-quality discussions to meet the end point.

Step 5 – Mapping

The value stream management team of your organization should collaborate to carry out the mapping activity. Since each team member brings their own expertise, they will be able to see the data from different perspectives to make necessary change towards reaching the objective. We need the current state value stream mapping and the future state value stream mapping. The whole activity is for 2 days. 

Step 6 – Add additional processes

Add additional processes and their corresponding data in your value stream management. It could be lead time, current cycle time, up time, SLA, takt time. The freshly added process should reflect in all stages of the value stream management. This is called as “current state” of VSM. The current state is helpful in understanding the VSM process, discuss and develop improvised solutions, and, identify hot points.    

Step 7 – Develop a future state VSM

The end point of your value stream map is elaborated in this step. Developing a future state value stream map involves defining the long-term targets to be achieved. It could be compliance, quality focused metrics or delivery velocity. The goal decided in this step is what the VSM team will have to work to achieve. It is important to note that as and when the goal is met, the value stream mapping can be done again to set a new future state to reflect a new focus. 

Step 8 – Develop short term target state value stream map

Based on the current state VSM, identify the bottlenecks, strengths, weaknesses, backlogs, hot point areas. These areas along with the long-term future state VSM in mind will give a clear picture of the improvements to be made to the process. Your VSM team can develop an implementation plan with 30, 60, 90-day view in measurable terms. The short-term target state value stream mapping gives the VSM team a consolidated view of the business process and the objective of the value stream mapping. 

While activities are done to move from current state to short term target state and finally to the future state, we need to manage the entire journey and keep fine tuning the improvement activities. This is done in Value Stream Management. 

My personal view is that the future value stream will also change due to many factors like socio-economic need change, technology change, regulation change, competition change, etc. and hence this will be a journey of continual improvement and experimentation. 

Last word

If you want to take your business to heights, value stream management is the way to go. Now that you know the steps to follow, you can learn more about it and practice it with mock exercises in the value stream management course. It will give you hands-on experience on implementing VSM in your organization and help you in practical ways with learnings from the practitioners themselves.