Home

In Part 1 of this series I covered the first part of my list including: not determining the Product (Process) Family correctly, not appointing a Value Stream Manager or VS Manager not performing his or her duties effectively, maps created by a “team of one”, and not considering items that don’t necessarily show up on the map (Change Management, training, communication, Teams, 5S, etc.).

Here are four more common mistakes I have witnessed over the years as people attempt to map their value streams.

5. Not updating the map – one of my favorite questions I received while presenting during a conference was “How often should we be updating our value stream maps?” I replied “Basically, whenever there is an important change, probably a couple of times per month or so.” There was a long pause and then the person said “I guess we are a little behind.” I asked “When was the last time you updated your map?” He said “Two years ago.” There was a big roar of laughter from the crowd. Obviously we need to keep the maps updated. For one reason it is easy to do if you use paper and pencil and also remember that we use these maps to communicate. If you don’t show your progress, you are not communicating effectively.

6. Trying to jump to a higher level Building Block (i.e., cells, TPM, Kanban) before the basic Building Blocks in place – In the ground-breaking book “Learning to See” the case study shows separate processes in the Current State and a cell with kanban in the Future State. In my experience, I have seen companies try to emulate the Acme case study and they just assume that creating cells and kanban are what they have to do in their first Future State. Maybe your organization is ready for that, but I have seen other groups that weren’t. It would probably be better if they focused on some easier techniques and practices (read: tools) first like Visual Workplace, Standardize Work, kaizen (small improvements), quality at the source  – just to name a few – to help drive behaviors that change the culture.

7. Not following the plan – This is a huge problem. We take all the time and trouble to create the plan and then we don’t even follow it. What a waste! There was a company that created their plan and decided to do other things that popped-up during the next six months. They stayed in their old mode of “fire fighting” instead of using the plan to improve the value stream. They even decided to redo the office (not on the plan) with new furniture instead of focusing on the more important projects from the plan. You created the plan for a reason, now go and implement it!

8. Not having an expert lead the first few events – The reason I say this is because people read books on VSM or even attend a seminar or workshop on VSM and then all of a sudden they think they are experts in VSM. Most books and training have to use case studies to present the ideas of Value Stream Mapping. In most instances, these are overly-simplified processes. To be fair, I use case studies also during training or seminars because there is usually not enough time to do a whole, real map and these maps are hard to see when projected up using PowerPoint. Real maps are much more developed. For instance a case study may show a few process steps for the information flow and a few for the material flow, but in real life there may be many process boxes used to represent the value stream; try to stick to only ten or so. A person that has drawn several maps can help determine the process families with the team, teach the team the correct way to draw the maps and in general facilitate a successful event. Since every value stream map is different, having a Value Stream Mapping Champion (subject matter expert) lead and teach value stream mapping to the others will produce superior results for now and for subsequent maps that the team creates on their own in the future.

Stay tuned for the last group. I hope this is informative and helps as you continue to learn, explore and use Value Stream Maps.

For more information on Value Stream Mapping, please visit our website www.5Ssupply.com.

Advertisements

HD-103_VSM_DetailWant to know the most common mistakes on Value Stream Maps?

Here is a list I compiled years ago while reviewing or seeing other people’s initial attempts at creating their own Value Stream Maps. I have used it during presentations to help share (yokoten) my experiences and hopefully help others not repeat the mistakes I have seen.

Here we go in no particular order:

  1. Not determining the Product (Process) Family correctly
  2. Not appointing a Value Stream Manager or VS Manager not performing their duties effectively
  3. Maps created by a “team of one”
  4. Not considering items that don’t necessarily show up on the map (Change Management, training, communication, Teams, 5S, etc.)
  5. Not frequently updating the map
  6. Trying to jump to a higher level Building Block (i.e., cells, TPM, Kanban) before the basic Building Blocks in place
  7. Not following the plan
  8. Not having an expert lead the first few events
  9. Not communicating the Value Stream Maps
  10. Calling other tools VSM (“butcher paper”, flowcharts, etc.)
  11. Using software to create maps
  12. Trying to collect too much data or not enough data

Over the next few blog posts I’ll go into a little more detail about each one. Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

1. Not determining the Product (Process) Family correctly – I think many people skip this step because they either don’t know that they are supposed to do it or they don’t know how to perform it correctly.

I visited a company that asked for help creating a Value Stream Map in their Customer Service area. I knew they had some Lean experience and have created Value Stream Maps before. When I asked them to share their Product Family Matrix, they said “What’s that?” Then I asked them how many different types of complaints they receive from customers? They responded hundreds (no judging please, it’s a large multi-national company to the consumer market). Actually, by creating a Process Family Matrix we discovered that they had six ‘types’ of complaints that had different flows through the process.

When it comes to creating this matrix I actually use the term ‘Process Family Matrix’ to include office areas that don’t traditionally think they have ‘products’.

Another company I worked with made covers for speakers that you’d see in the ceiling of office areas. They told me “we just make holes; we don’t need to do a Product Family Matrix.” I asked them if they would just humor me and go through the exercise. After completing the matrix we discovered that they had ten different Process Families!

By creating this matrix, you will have a better understanding on how your products or services should be grouped together – not necessarily how they currently are processed. In my experience, I have found that if you skip this step everything you do after is challenging; but if you do this (hard) step first, then everything after will be much easier. With practice this step does gets easier.

2. Not appointing a Value Stream Manager or VS Manager not performing their duties effectively – this is a hard one. Over the years I have seen companies attempt to create the ‘position’ of Value Stream Manager, but they seem to fail to grasp the concept. The two most typical scenarios I have seen include the Vice President of Operations saying they he or she would take on that role. That person usually doesn’t have enough time to do their own work let alone taking on a new challenge. At the other end of the spectrum, I have seen companies pick the new engineer to play the role of Value Stream Manager. Unfortunately, this person does not have enough experience to do this job. There needs to be someone in the middle that could fulfill this role. I understand the idea of a Value Stream Manager is very foreign to most organizations and they are unsure how this would work or even if it would fit into their company. One way to move this forward is to appoint a ‘Value Stream Manager’ – someone with enough experience in the company, is well respected and has the organizational skills to perform this role. Have this person focus on helping the teams complete any projects that were selected form the VSM. At this point, it might just seem like project management. It’s a start.

3. Maps created by a “team of one” – Having one person create the map means you only used one brain and two hands. The information gathered may be biased or even worse – incorrect. We are trying to make decisions for what is best for the entire value stream and that is hard to do with only one person. Make sure you use a good cross-functional team to walk the flow, gather the information and then draw the map. Of course you can have one person ‘draw the map’, but you need the input from the people that actually do the work to gather and collect data.

4. Not considering items that don’t necessarily show up on the map (Change Leadership, training, communication, team building, 5S, etc.) – Even though the maps will give us great information and insights for improvement, they typically do not have other enterprise-wide initiatives that an organization should undertake during its Lean journey such as setting up a 5S System, visual workplace, leader standard work, etc.. What I am trying to say is that a company needs to have 5S everywhere and value stream maps may only show an area or process that needs 5S, not the entire facility. So make sure you understand your overall goals and objectives as an organization (like items from catchball in Hoshin Kanri) to see if they fit into your VSM.

Also, other important items like soft-skills (i.e., communication or good change leadership) do not usually show up as an action item on a value stream map but are extremely important while implementing Lean. Don’t forget these items as you create your Future State and plan.

I hope these were helpful. In “Twelve Common Errors with Value Stream Mapping – Part 2” I will cover four more. Let me know what you think.

For more information on Value Stream Mapping, please visit our website www.5Ssupply.com.

Sign up for our free webinar “Value Stream Mapping: Understanding the Current State” with Mike Osterling.

Business Flow Training Kit5S Supply has great training kits to map out your office, manufacturing or supply chain business processes or value streams. These kits from our friends at the Institute for Operational Excellence are 60% off regular price as part of a final clearance event. This is for a limited time only.

As an organization begins its journey toward operational excellence, it needs to build consensus and alignment quickly by understanding its Value Streams. The kits have 36 unique icons pre-printed on color-coded, moveable sticky notes housed in a handy carrying case. By following the process; seeing the flow (or lack of flow) and building a future state. Save time and money, while minimizing rework by clearly depicting multiple future state scenarios.

“Seeing the Flow” Kit is designed for facilitators on the go. The kits include:

  • Up to 37 unique icons – (35) Supply Chain,(36) Manufacturing, (37) Business Process
  • Markers (Black, Blue, Green, Red)
  • Calculator
  • Ruler
  • Eraser
  • Pencils (3)
  • eVSM free ninety day trial mini-CD
  • Electronic Icon Library mini-CD
  • User’s Guide (with instructions)
  • Carrying case

There are six styles to choose from:

  1. Business Process Flow Kit, was $349, now $140
  2. Business Process Flow Kit – Travel Edition, was $299, now $120
  3. Manufacturing Flow Kit, was $349, now $140
  4. Manufacturing Flow Kit – Travel Edition, was $299, now $120
  5. Supply Chain Flow Kit, was $349, now $140
  6. Supply Chain Flow Kit – Travel Edition, was $299, now $120

For more information, click here>>Business Mapping Kits

To prepare for your Value Stream Mapping training event, make sure that you communicate with not only with the team members, but to other employees too. Specifically mention it to employees that might have a high probability of being interviewed. Since most companies under-communicate with their employees, it is important to get this information out early and in several different formats. One company was very creative and placed posters around the facility announcing the plans for the VSM event. A key to good communication is that you are targeting your audience with a clear message. Since it is not uncommon for companies to think that they have done a good job of communicating when they really don’t; here are a couple of ideas that may help your efforts:

  • Use several channels of communication – don’t think that just because you mentioned it in passing during a monthly meeting that you met your obligation for clear communication. Pick several forms of communication such as: Alerts, Announcements, Articles, Board Meetings, Books, Bulletin Board Posting, Communication Board, Contests, Department Meetings, E-mail, Handouts, Lunch & Learn, Management Meetings, Newsletters, One-on-One Meetings, Paycheck Meetings, Plant-wide Meetings, PowerPoint Presentation, Seminars, Stand-up Meetings, Team Meetings, Videos, internal Website
  • Remember who your audience is – managers and supervisors probably need to know different information than the value-adders. For instance, a manager on the team will need to know how much time he or she will have to spend with the team. Supervisors may need to know who you may be interviewing and how this may affect their schedule or production. Operators or potential interviewees want to know what is this VSM ‘thing’ is about, why they were chosen to be interviewed, how much time will it take and even, will they get in trouble for saying the wrong thing (or telling the truth!).
  • Rate the effectiveness of the communication – just because you think you communicated well, doesn’t necessarily mean you have. Rate the effectiveness of your communication by performing quick audits by casually asking people if they know about the upcoming event. If people say “yes”, then you have probably done well. If they say they no idea of what you’re talking about, then your effectiveness is probably poor.

The key is good, clear, effective communication for all those affected by the VSM training.

If you need items for your VSM training event, check us out at http://www.5ssupply.com/shop/pc/Value-Stream-Mapping-c77.htm

A typical Value Stream Mapping team is made up of about seven people (I found this size works well), mostly managerial or supervisory level. Having a larger group makes it difficult to have everyone walk the flow and gather data. Having a smaller group tends to limit the ability to create a meaningful future state. Have an experience person lead the team and facilitate the first few events until you are comfortable with Value Stream Mapping. That includes bringing in an outside resource like a consultant.

Team members can be drawn from several areas within an organization such as:

  • Production control/scheduling
  • Operations management
  • Key floor leaders/supervisors
  • Information Technology.
  • Materials/logistics/warehousing material handlers
  • Marketing/sales/customer service
  • Accounting/finance
  • Human resources
  • Purchasing/receiving
  • Process/design engineering/engineering
  • Quality
  • Supplier/vendors
  • Internal/external customers

Choose people that are knowledgeable enough about the inner workings of your organization (also having an outsider or new person may be helpful), but the key here is that you trust these people enough to create the future state. Make sure the team fairly represents the scope of your project and that key stakeholders are involved.

Not everyone can be on the team. One of the ways to make up for this is to let people know that they may be interviewed to help with the process. A warning here – if you have 20 people in the customer service department you will probably not interview all 20. My recommendation is to interview someone that has a good working knowledge of the process family and is able to succinctly answer questions.

One of the best VSM events I facilitated included the customer (who was also the supplier of the materials). Many companies wouldn’t dream of letting a customer in to see their operations. This company was above that type of thinking. The most amazing things started to occur when we discovered that the customer/supplier was causing internal problems for this company and that many steps were redundant. This opened up everyone’s eye and discussions on improvement flowed forth.

Sign up for our free webinar “Introduction to Value Stream Mapping” on Thursday, September 29, 2011 and if you need items for your VSM event visit us at www.5Ssupply.com.

– Tony

Many books and articles do a great job explaining Values Stream Mapping especially for a product family, current state map, future state map and implementation plan. What about after you completed your first VSM? You already spent months completing the things on your VSM plan (well, most of them, anyway) so what do you do now? Here are two approaches you can use:

  1. Work on your first Value Stream Map again
  2. Start a second Value Stream Map

Do it again

Working on your original VSM again shows your commitment to continuous improvement. By already harvesting the low hanging fruit this will force you to dig deeper and really apply Lean Thinking to your processes. Most first attempts at VSM aren’t perfect, so this will give you a chance to improve what you have already worked on.

Start a New Map

The second thing you might consider doing is starting on another value stream map for a different Process (a.k.a. Product) Family. You don’t actually have to wait until you have completed the first VSM; it is more of a resource issue. Do you have enough people, time and the budget to start to make changes on another facility level value stream? Or maybe at this point you have discovered that you need to do some more process level maps to make improvements. My advice is to not get too focused one way or another. As soon as someone says we need to map out another process family, I might ask if they need to dive down in a little more detail. If they say that they should focus only on process level maps, I might suggest looking at another process family. The point is to not assume that there is only one right answer. It’s what’s important to the organization.

How to make the transition

This can seem to be daunting for some organizations. It’s not really that hard, you just have to be prepared for it. The first thing to remember is that the success of your first map will have an impact on your second. That is, how well you did completing your plan on the first map will set the stage for your next map.

One way to get ready for Future State 2 is to have a team meeting. Start by reassembling the original VSM team. Perform a review of the map and plan. Although the Value Stream Manager has been updating the map and the plan, it might be useful to do this one more time with the entire team present. Present the facts, current conditions, progress and completed projects or kaizen events. The next thing do is to talk about and capture lessons learned. A “lesson learned” can be a either good feedback or opportunities for improvement for next time. I doubt that anyone starting their very first value stream map is going to be perfect in execution the first time through. We need to learn from this including learning from our mistakes. Don’t be afraid to look at the cold hard truth about how well you did as a team completing your future state. Next, walk the flow again as a team. Focus on looking for waste. Talk with the value-adders to get insights on how things went and how they are going now.

After the walk the team has to make a critical decision; create a Future State for the original process family, start a new Value Stream Map for another process family or both. In my experience, it mostly boils down to resources; do we have enough people and time to start a new map now?

Sign up for our free webinar “Introduction to Value Stream Mapping” on Thursday, September 29, 2011.

For more resources for VSM, click here>> 5S Supply & Value Stream Mapping

 

During a Value Stream Mapping event a team member asked “Why do we have to walk the flow, we can get the data we need by using our computer system and reports?” Here are seven advantages to walking the flow versus just data dumping in a conference room:

  1. The team gets to hear first-hand from the people who actually do the work and their perception of the status of their task.
  2. The team sees all the hand-offs and distances traveled just to get an order through your system.
  3. It gives you another chance to look for and see waste in your operations.
  4. It gets the people (value-adders) involved, their opinions are heard, and builds buy-in.
  5. It is a great way to verify management’s idea of what’s going on versus what is actually going on.
  6. The team gets to walk the entire distance and possibly see opportunities for improvement in layout; this may be a good time to draw a “spaghetti diagram”.
  7. It allows team members to become more familiar with areas that they do not normally visit in their daily routines

During this process of training the team will interview the people who perform the task to gather data and information. When you perform the interview, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Remember, people may be nervous when they see a troop of people marching towards them with clipboards. The best thing to do is to communicate with people in advance that you will be visiting them to gather information for your Value Stream Mapping project. If it is not possible to contact the individuals ahead of time, another alternative may be to communicate to the entire staff via newsletter, bulletin board, departmental meetings or other means that a VSM event will be performed.

Sign up for our free webinar “Introduction to Value Stream Mapping” on Thursday, September 29, 2011.

For more resources for VSM, click here>> 5S Supply & Value Stream Mapping