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In our previous blog we discussed the Waste Scan. We learned that making ‘deadly wastes’ visible in our processes, shows what activities can be optimized.There are several techniques that can be used in the Analysis phase of the DMAIC cycle. In this blog we will find out in what way processes add value. Previous blogs discussed different techniques of the Measure and Define Phase, and next posts will elaborate on other Analysis techniques.
What is it?
The Value Stream Map focuses on value in the process. We distinguish between activities that add value for the customer, to the organization and activities that don’t add value. In organizations, there turn out to be many activities that do not add value for the customer. So here is a chance for improvement.
The Value Stream Map is a strong technique because it really helps to discuss the essence of why you execute processes the way you are. Questions that come to mind are ‘who is the customer for this process?’, ‘what is the service or product that we actually deliver with this process?’, and ‘are we happy with the way that we do this?’. The technique is best performed with a group of people with a variety of expertise. Most likely some of the people in the group will experience some frustration, saying ‘do we really need to do this for every activity?’ Yes we do! Seeing that we have put green marks on the value adding activities shows where to put the energy of the employees. The colors speak clearly. If for example, 70 percent of the activities are blue or red, the group gets a lot of opportunity to think of ways to improve their way of working.
The refresh button collects all yellow sticky notes; these notes are the reason for using this technique. If there are no yellow sticky notes, this can be a reason to not use this technique.
The foundation of the Value Stream Map is the process model.
When working through the process model, for each activity is determined what value it adds for the customer and for the organization. Certain activities don’t add any value at all.
Yellow sticky notes can be moved to a relevant part of the process.
‘Red sticky notes’ (identified causes) can be added from scratch or from a yellow sticky note.
Tips and best practices
Make sure that when performing this technique, you have a good representation of people from the workfloor.
The strength of this technique is in the discussion and dialogue about the concept of value. Try to stimulate the participants to be critical; is this really what the customer is waiting for?
Red activities (not adding value) are not all supposed to be eliminated. Often, that is impossible. But what opportunities do we see to reduce the amount of red and blue activities?
It is a good idea to have someone from outside the process look into the process on location (observation). This helps create a good picture of the process and can open up a discussion about ingrained patterns.