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Your Six Sigma Analysis Toolkit: Value Stream Mapping

When practicing the Six Sigma methodology in your company, using relevant tools and applications can benefit the tasks at hand. One of these complementary tools is Value Stream Mapping. We define Value Stream Mapping as a lean-management method used to visualize the current and future stages of a process. Typically, these stages flow from the production of a product or service all the way to its delivery or execution. With this model, you can analyze the flow of information and material within each individual process that takes place. How this model relates to the Six Sigma methodology is by its design to show flaws within a system and provide ways of increasing efficiency with the business management process.

How Does It Work? 

Starting off, you must first decide upon a goal you wish to achieve through Value Stream Mapping. This can include reducing waste, increasing manufacturing speed, and more. You must also designate where the start and end of your process are.

Next, you begin to list out each stage during the process value stream flow. For manufacturing, these may include building select parts, moving them along an assembly line, and constructing the final product. However, multiple industries use this analysis tool such as logistics, software development, supply chain, and others.

After labeling each stage during your value stream, the next criteria are to add in parameters to be measured. How long a process should take, the average number of employees there, and the machine power limitations are all examples of measurable metrics to assess. Additionally, each variable’s value should be considered. Each process and its variables can be categorized as ‘value adding’ or ‘value losing,’ depending on the progress of the value stream.

After this, you will collect data and analyze your findings. Furthermore, at this point, you can reassess certain process, make changes towards efficiency, and calculate how else to improve your business management.

The Pros and Cons

 Like all good models, there are certain benefits and risks Value Stream Mapping possesses. For the benefits, this tool provides you with valuable insight to the efficiency of your business processes. You can measure any number of variables, make changes where needed, and implement a more effective, sustainable procedure. Likewise, you can map display the exact flow of your value stream and locate where limitations or hindrances may exist. However, certain risks are also present. First, Value Stream Mapping works ideally for simple, linear processes. More complex, multi-level productions will greatly restrict the usability of this tool. Additionally, this tool follows a basic pen and paper technique, which can limit the accuracy of its analysis. Other tools that depend on computer simulations or engineered programs have proven to be more accurate and effective at enhancing the quality of business processes.

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