During the month of August – while many are taking time off to enjoy summer – we will be offering a resource page on a particular topic. The resource page features an overview of the week’s topic and links to the best related content across iSixSigma (articles, blogs, discussions, Marketplace products and dictionary entries). This week’s topic is value stream mapping.

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a Lean technique used to document, analyze and improve the flow of information or materials required to produce a product or service for a customer. VSM tracks a product or service as it makes its way through the value stream with the objective of identifying and eliminating waste in the process.

VSM differs from the process mapping of Six Sigma in four ways:

  1. It gathers and displays a far broader range of information than a typical process map.
  2. It tends to be at a higher level (5 to 10 boxes) than many process maps.
  3. It tends to be used at a broader level (i.e., from receiving of raw material to delivery of finished goods).
  4. It is generally used to identify where to focus future projects, subprojects and/or Kaizen events.

A VSM takes into account not only the activity of the product, but the management and information systems that support the basic process. This is especially helpful when working to reduce cycle time, because you gain insight into the decision-making flow in addition to the process flow.

To learn more about value stream mapping and related topics, and to see examples of the tool in use, refer to the following articles and discussions:

To read more VSM articles, click here.

Additional resources are available for purchase on the iSixSigma Marketplace:

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