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7. Techniques

7.23 Value Stream Mapping

Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide

Value Stream Mapping is used to provide a complete, fact-based, time-series representation of the stream of activities required to deliver a product or service to the internal or external customer.

A value stream represents the flow of material and information required to bring a solution to the customer. A value stream map is a graphical representation that captures a snapshot of the value stream.

There are two main types of value stream maps that are widely used:

  • Current State Value Stream Map: depicts a value stream as it is applied by those who are responsible for executing it. It is usually used as a starting point for analysis of an existing process to identify improvement opportunities.

  • Future State Value Stream Map: derived from the current state and shows what the value stream will look like after the implementation of the improvements.

In an agile environment, the value stream map is usually simple and drawn on a whiteboard. It can be used to help re-engineer business processes to optimize use of software. It can also be used to re-engineer and tune the development processes, for example, to reduce lead time from solution discovery to release.

.1 Prepare

  1. Gather a cross-functional team. In an agile context, this includes subject matter experts with business domain knowledge and technical team members such as developers, testers, operational support, architects, and vendor representatives. Business analysis practitioners frequently facilitate the session.

  2. Assign a value stream map owner. Ideally, this is someone who has a deep understanding of the current process.

  3. Select a product, a product family, or a service, and define the scope of the value stream map.

  4. Identify the customer value received so it can be traced back.

.2 Create Current State

The current value stream map can be captured following these steps:

  1. Name the map.

  2. Observe or simulate the value stream. Follow a product or product family path by starting at the end closest to the customer and record the process working backwards to the beginning.

  3. Draw the value stream map.

  4. Capture the information flow that is vital for the value stream to function. Information flow includes things such as orders, schedules, inventory time, changeover time, cycle time, and the number of operators involved.

  5. Build a model that shows each step in the flow with hand-offs and sequence. To assist in the analysis needed to identify opportunities for improvement in the process, ensure you include time and cost values onto the steps in the process. These time values may be estimated, if needed. The more details available, the easier it is to identify improvement opportunities.

  6. Identify the waste steps to eliminate. These are steps in the flow which are redundant, low value, or could be automated.

  7. Validate the value stream map. The initial draft of the current value stream map must be validated before proceeding to the improvement phase.

.3 Analyze Current State

The current value stream map can be analyzed as described in the BABOK® Guide technique Root Cause Analysis to identify value added steps (such as transformation processes) from those that are non-value added, such as excessive inventories (for more information see BABOK® Guide: 10.40 Root Cause Analysis).

The non-value added steps can be analyzed further to determine which ones are necessary (such as meeting regulatory requirements) and which ones are unnecessary (such as excessive paperwork).

.4 Create Future State

The future state value stream map can be drawn as follows:

  1. Identify improvement areas. Unnecessary non-value added steps are the source of waste and they can be eliminated. Team members can mark these areas (such as reducing lead time) on the current value stream map.

  2. Identify improvement measurements.

  3. Capture the future state value stream map. Draw the value stream map that shows what the value stream will look like after you have eliminated the waste (unnecessary wait time, excessive administrative paperwork, high inventories, and so forth).

  4. Once the future state is captured it can be used as the target state of the improvement initiative.

.5 Implement Process Improvement

  1. Identify supporting material required for implementing the improvement such as information technology systems, training, and changeover.

  2. Implement the improvement.

In an agile context, Value Stream Mapping is frequently used when implementing process improvement. Often, the changes to be made in the business process will require changes to or implementation of supporting technology products. The requirements for these changes or enhancements become backlog items that feed into an agile initiative.

Once the improvement is made, the future state becomes the current value stream map and it can be used as a starting point for another improvement cycle.

The following is an example of a value stream map.

Figure 7.23.1: Value Stream Map


.1 Strengths

  • More comprehensive than a process flow diagram.

  • Provides a blueprint for implementing improvement.

  • Establishes a shared understanding of process waste and bottlenecks.

  • Provides a common visual language for diverse stakeholders.

.2 Limitations

  • Not easy to construct in comparison with other visual modelling techniques.

  • Can look daunting because of all the information captured.

  • Mapping paralysis. It is easy to get caught making the current state value stream map complete and perfect instead of proceeding to the improvement stage.

  • Doesn't work well in knowledge based or non-linear work.

  • Leads to disruptive or “re-engineering” approach. Doesn't work well with ongoing improvement efforts.