Using Lean to Define and Improve the Value Stream

By Natalie J. Sayer, Bruce Williams

Part of Lean For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The value stream includes all of the activities, materials, people, and information that must flow and come together to provide your customer the value they want, when they want it and how they want it. You identify the value stream on a value-stream map, using specific icons.

You improve the value stream by following the Plan-Do-Check-Act process (sometimes called the Plan-Do-Study-Act process). The 3P Methodology (Production Preparation Process) is used upfront to design products and processes before they are in the final form. By creating an environment of safety and order, you can more easily identify where waste happens. The process for this environment is sort, straighten, scrub, systematize, and standardize while eliminating any unsafe conditions; this is known as 5S+.

Example value-stream map (VSM)

When you have created your VSM, you will identify areas for improvement. Here is an example of a VSM showing the current state of the process and several potential areas for improvement.

The current-state VSM markup for a salad company.

The current-state VSM markup for a salad company.