• Analyze and gain consensus for your value stream analysis. Socialize the current state VSM with all stakeholders. Gain their consensus that the map truly reflects how the process is currently performed.
  • Identify limiting factors, deficiencies and losses associated with the current process. Think outside the box and do not be constrained by perceptions or artificial boundaries. Quantify the impact on performance and cost for each of the limitations identified. Care must be taken to assure the true root causes, not the symptoms, of each limiting factor are identified.
  • Develop cost-effective solutions for each of the factors, deficiencies and losses that are limiting the effectiveness and efficiency of the current process. Solutions must directly address the root cause of the identified issues and be affordable.
  • Change the VSM to reflect the proposed changes that will eliminate or mitigate the limiting factors associated with the initial process map. Make sure that all recommended changes are clearly identified and included in the “Future State” VSM.

Third Pass: Improve

  • Socialize the future-state value stream map with all stakeholders. It is imperative that you gain their consensus and buy-in before proceeding to the implementation stage. Assure that all stakeholders are given the opportunity to review and comment on the new process.
  • Modify all affected procedures, bills of material and training materials to reflect the changes to be implemented. This step cannot be omitted or minimized without incurring serious restrictions in any real benefits derived from the proposed changes.
  • Train all affected personnel on the new procedures.  Assure that all are trained and can apply them before attempting to implement.
  • Implement the changes identified through the VSM process. These changes should be implemented based on descending priority—greatest benefit first and thoroughly documented.  The preferred approach is to implement the changes in discrete increments with sufficient time between changes to determine the resultant benefit derived from each discrete change.

Fourth Pass: Sustain

  • Establish effective key performance indicators (KPIs) that will accurately measure performance and cost change within and for the applicable process. These KPIs, in conjunction with a verified baseline of the current-state process, will be used to verify and validate change.
  • Monitor and reinforce compliance with the new standard procedures and practices established as part of the improvement process. One cannot assume that all stakeholders will immediately and voluntarily adhere to the changes that are being implemented.
  • Verified and validated improvements should be institutionalized across the manufacturing site.

VSM is a highly effective continuous improvement tool, but it must be used effectively. Any and all short-cuts will limit the value of the tool, and too many will assure that little gain will be achieved. Use it properly and completely and it will provide a direct path to process optimization and an operation that is assured long-term survival.

R. Keith Mobley is a Principal at Life Cycle Engineering, which provides consulting, engineering, applied technology and education solutions that deliver lasting results for private industry, public entities, government organizations and the military. Mobley has earned a reputation for his expertise in the fields of plant performance optimization, reliability engineering, predictive maintenance and effective management. He has more than 35 years of direct experience in corporate management, process design and troubleshooting. For the past 16 years, he has helped hundreds of clients worldwide achieve and sustain world-class performance. Mobley can be reached at kmobley@LCE.com.