Value stream mapping: boosting innovation productivity

Value stream mapping is a highly structured and hands-on way of creating process and project transparency

How process transparency creates efficiency and ownership

In the Philips ‘Accelerate’ concept, development organizations need to become faster and more efficient in value proposition development. In coming years, pressure on innovation performance will most probably continue to increase. If multidisciplinary teams want to accelerate and become smarter throughout the entire development process, value stream mapping (VSM) is a practical tool that can help achieve this.

Value stream mapping: results in just a few days

Value stream mapping is a highly structured and hands-on way of creating process and project transparency (see figure). This tool has been specifically designed for processes, including innovation and development processes, where everybody feels that progress can be faster but it is not obvious where efficiency is lost. VSM is used to analyze and visualize any business process and is very suitable for use in office environments, where processes are frequently not transparent. In order to discover improvement areas, four fields are being analyzed:

  • activities performed by different parties;
  • communications, data carriers;
  • time and decision points;
  • previously identified difficulties.

Value stream mapping is a highly structured and hands-on way of creating process and project transparency

Depending on the complexity of the process and the experience of the participants, performing a full value stream mapping may take from three up to ten days. After the VSM has been carried out, targeted improvements are documented and implemented by (Kaizen) teams.

Value stream mapping in practice

With value stream mapping we can analyze the current state of a series of activities that a product or service takes from its conception to end-user application and determine the desired future state. The first part of the VSM process is identifying and mapping the actual state in a blueprint via group sessions. This involves all parties in the complete product creation process, from voice of the customer (VOC) to control plans at manufacturing. Group contribution, analysis and mapping the flow in a transparent way helps identify where efficiency is lost. This process requires professional preparation as well as facilitation, including clear conclusions and consent on written recordings of the input delivered by all.

The second part is finding root causes of inefficiencies. This is best achieved by using dedicated resources, specialized in creating effective processes. Finally, based on that input, all involved are identifying and creating possible countermeasures, which help develop the desired ‘future state’. These will be put into practice after ownership has been achieved on the agreed final conclusions, including the path to the desired future state.

What can VSM do for you?

The VSM approach has recently been successfully deployed at Philips Lighting Professional Luminaires. Ben Knapen, R&D manager Indoor General Area at Professional Europe, states he is very pleased with the significant concrete improvements that have emerged from the VSM project. He is really proud of what the teams have accomplished. He explains:

“Although before we clearly surpassed our targets, we visibly have been able to put more effectiveness in our customer need identification process. By doing so we are gaining substantial time in creating innovative solutions that matter. VSM’s multidisciplinary approach with participation of all functions including product management, project leads, product architects and quality from both our R&D sites lead to this successful outcome. What’s also important, we have adapted our way of working to a result driven, event based rhythm approach creating much more transparency for all involved in the entire chain. As another consequence of the VSM assessment, we have trained our entire staff in lean innovation and are using the lean approach to drive continuous improvement.”

Golden tail

The value stream map can also be used in DfSS/DfX and DMAIC projects and is one of the key tools in supply chain management. In the next issue we will discuss a project on managing the golden tail of a business. Here VSM is one of the key tools helping create breakthrough innovation.

We have ample experience in developing and mapping data with your teams in order to arrive at desired improvements. If you would like to check out what VSM might bring to your organization, please get in touch with Martijn Riemeijer.

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Related article: Design for Excellence in all product life cycles

Related article: Lean innovation: product development in the next decade

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