Difference Between Flow Chart and VSM?

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    Ken Theriot

    I need another sanity check.  I’m putting together some lean training with someone from a consulting firm.  One of the consulting firm’s slides (showing all beige process boxes) on value stream mapping says “No value has been placed to any of the steps yet so it is not a value stream.  Flowcharts simply identify each of the steps in the existing process, how long each step takes, and how long it waits before entering the next step.”  The chart referred to here is a process diagram of an admin process, with cycle times shown for each process and queue time shown in between processes.  The “value” being referred to is the identifying of each step as either value added (process box gets colored green) or non-value-added (box gets colored red).  The consuling firm’s definition of the difference between a flow chart and a VSM is the identification of each step as value added or non-value added.  If the blocks are not so identified, say the consultants, it is merely a flow chart.
    I disagree strenuously with this assessment.  If there is a graphical representation of a process flow, especially with time data attached, I think it can be called a VSM.


    Duke Okes

    It all depends on your operational definitions of flowchart and VSM.  If you use the Rother & Shook method for VSM then the consultant’s definition falls short a lot, s VSMs include a lot of details.
    Do whatever is needed for the application and don’t get hung up on labels.



    agree with what duke said, it all depends on how you are going to use the tool in your operation.  I used simple flowcharting as an analysis tool to determine value add and non value add in one of my lean projects, which eventually lead to the reduction in process cycle time.  its a matter of how you will use a little creativity to effect improvement in your business and not get stuck with the type of tool, which sometimes are just designed for entrepreneurial purpose.


    Ovidiu Contras

    Do you have the material flow? Do you have the information flow that goes with it? Do you have the timeline? Do you have data boxes for the activities? All pertinent info about the process is there?
    If the answer is yes for these questions, you have a VSM.
    As per VA/NVA discussion, do a research on this forum, there are interesting threads …
    hope this helps …

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