An introduction to Process Mapping and Value Stream Analysis
Robert Milnes provides an introduction to process mapping and value stream analysis.
Process Mapping explained
Process mapping is used to review or document the processes an organisation carries out on a regular basis. It is most commonly associated with Lean Six Sigma or Continuous Business Improvement.
When conducting process mapping, businesses will identify common procedures and work flows, either for the company as a whole or for individual departments. They will also review the people responsible for different tasks, the standards to which they should be carried out and how these are all measured.
Taking part in process mapping can help any organisation understand what is working within its businesses and where improvements can be made. The ideal outcome is usually less wasted resources or time and the result is often greater efficiency as well as cost savings.
Why does process mapping help with business performance?
While many people consider process mapping to be the act of documenting how certain activities are carried out in an organisation, there are significant business benefits in addition to this. By reviewing the processes within an organisation, employees and project managers can discover ways to improve, cut out unnecessary waste and make savings. A manufacturing plant, for example, could discover new ways to streamline production, increase speed or reduce time taken to carry out a task and therefore increase profit. Rather than simply listing the actions, process mapping provides a visual way to fundamentally improve operations and control the quality of your output.
Value stream analysis explained
The value stream is the name we give to all of the activities you carry out within an organisation in order to create a product or service. Value stream analysis is the process of separating these activities into those that provide ‘value’ and those which are considered ‘waste’. It is one of the major elements of the Lean Six Sigma initiative that helps companies cut out unnecessary processes and operate more efficiently.
Value steam analysis is similar to process mapping and frequently forms part of a Lean or business improvement strategy. It involves analysing the current state of each event that takes place to get your products from mere parts to purchased and delivered to the consumer. Value stream analysis is commonly used in the manufacturing industry. However, you’ll also see it implemented within industries such as logistics, healthcare and other service-related organisations. Anywhere that you have processes, people and a desired result, value stream analysis can help.
Why value stream analysis?
Many organisations fail to reach their ‘true north’, also known as their end goal or desired level of success, because of a lack of analysis of current processes. By incorporating value stream analysis into your Lean or continuous improvement strategy, you will be taking one of the first crucial steps to creating an efficient, lean organisation.
How does value stream analysis differ from process mapping?
The value stream is the combination of all the activities or processes your business carries out in order to produce its products or deliver a service. Value stream analysis enables you and your team members to identify the processes that work and those that don’t (i.e. the non-value-adding work), so you can remove anything that’s not required and continually improve the effectiveness of your business, production or people. Process mapping on the other hand is a methodology designed to help you literally map your way to a desired result. Often using a flow diagram, process mapping uses colour codes and signs, and creates a current state as well as a desired future state, whether that’s a short-term target or long-term improvement goal for your business.
You can read more about eradicating inefficient processes within your organisation in our recent blog. If you would like to discuss process mapping or value stream analysis or any business improvement project, contact one of our Lean consultants at RNC.info@RNConsulting.co.uk.