How to Value Stream Map for Process Improvement

Adriana Girdler

WHAT is value stream mapping? HOW and WHEN do I use it? Here are the answers! Are you unclear about the ins and outs of …

WHAT is value stream mapping? HOW and WHEN do I use it? Here are the answers!

Are you unclear about the ins and outs of value stream mapping? Maybe you’re not exactly sure what it is, why it matters, or when it’s helpful to use. Well, over the years I have created tons of value stream maps for my clients who were looking to improve their processes and understand where issues were. And today, I’m going to break it all down for you.

The ‘WHAT’

Simply put, value stream mapping is like someone taking an overhead snapshot of your organization. It captures a process from TRUE START to TRUE FINISH, and the whole process in between.

The ‘WHEN’

There are a variety of times when value stream mapping becomes a helpful tool. One of the most common reasons value stream maps are used is to identify where issues are taking place. For example, perhaps the organization is receiving complaints from customers and they need to find out where the problem truly lies so they can correct it. It could be any part of the process that’s throwing things off. So, value stream mapping follows the whole process to identify these issues and enable further investigation to be done.

The ‘HOW’

How do you create a value stream map, after all? Well, it starts with data collection. There needs to be data from true start to true finish, so true start is where you want to begin, and then continue to walk the stream from there.

Talk to subject matter experts to get accurate data and information. For example, if you’re starting from when a customer calls in an order, talk to the person who is taking that call and find out what goes into that step of the process.

The important thing is that you collect data in sequential order; follow the flow. And remember, this is a high-level snapshot. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

That being said, of course there is the part of actually mapping it out! It’s much easier to SHOW you how this is done, rather than tell you. So, I’ve created a thorough tutorial video on how to create a value stream map and how to use it effectively. I’ve even included an example to help you understand better.

If you’d like to watch the video to learn more about value stream mapping, head over to YouTube with me and we’ll keep talking!

Meanwhile, if you really are committed to mastering your next project, do consider taking my SLAY Project Management online course where I show you step-by-step how to successfully manage a project, plus you get access to every template you will need, along with detailed video instructions on how to fill them out.


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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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