How do I create a value stream map?

Value stream maps represent the flow of materials, work, ad information through the facility and are a Lean tool used to identify areas of improvement. While creating a value stream map can be simply drawn on a piece of paper, there are a few best practices and elements you should be aware of before you begin drafting a VSM:

  • Make it a team effort: Value stream maps are more accurate and effective when other managers, operators, and workers are involved. You will get more accurate information and better insight by talking with assembly operators and those working on the frontline.
  • Add context: It’s important to not only map the flow of materials throughout your facility, but to include important information that may add some context to your data. This includes wait times, number of available operators, cycle time, inventory levels, quantities, and more.
  • Schedule time for it: If you are looking to create an in-depth and comprehensive map, consider scheduling a Kaizen event. Kaizen events take place over a set period of time (like a few days) and are focused on continuous improvement efforts. During this time, you can schedule meetings with the VSM team, tours of certain areas of the facility, and any other tasks needed to complete a map.
  • Use a template Develop a template with your team that you will use to draw out the map. Using information you have already gathered, create a legend of abbreviations and symbols you will be using in the value stream map. Typically, a map is broken down into different sections: the upper-right corner includes customer information, supplier information is noted in the upper-left corner, the top half of the map is for material flow, and information flow is mapped out on the bottom half. Although you can create a VSM with a pencil and some paper, it may be beneficial for your organization to use a software.

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