Posted by: JC Gatlin | April 14, 2010

Value Stream Maps – Visualizing Waste

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a lean tool used to chart the flow of information and materials through the homebuilding system, from the beginning of a process to the end. In fact at Toyota, where the technique originated, it’s known as “material and information flow mapping.” VSM was pioneered by Toyota’s chief engineer, Taiichi Ohno, and sensei Shigeo Shingo as a tool for productivity (as opposed to quality.) Because it’s a simple visualization technique, it’s especially effective in identifying burdensome, overly-complex systems (present state) and in designing simple replacements (future state).

By analyzing the value stream map, you can identify waste, design solutions and communicate lean concepts.

Creating a Value Stream Map

Step 1.

Clearly identify the objective of the process.

 Step 2.

Identify all the positions (or people) involved in the process of achieving that objective. Cross-functional team members from construction, production, and sales to finance, IT, and design planning should be included in all mapping sessions.

 Step 3.

Write a step by step outline of each action in the process as information or materials is passed through each position.

 Step 4.

Draw a “current state” value stream map, which shows a step by step process flow. This is a flow chart diagram and must include all the steps as the process is currently conducted (not how it “should be” or “can be” conducted.) Show the good, the bad and the ugly. This is real world, as it happens today.

 Step 5.

Once the “current state” is mapped out, identify  process times and delay times on actual steps or actions, as well as between actual steps and actions where no activity may be taking place. (This may be waiting times.) Make sure you have input from every position (or person) involved in the process.

 Step 6.

Next identify steps in the process that are non-value added. Another term for non-value added is waste. Waste is any activity that is not adding value to the end product or service. Target the 7 wastes specifically. (Often in homebuilding, non-value added is anything that the customer would be unwilling to pay for, but depending on the process, it can be anything that doesn’t directly help you achieve the process objective.)

 Step 7.

Draw a “future state” value stream map that has eliminated or reduced areas identified as wasteful or non-value added. Again, this will be a flow chart diagram. Also, get input from every position (or person) involved in the process.

 Step 8.

Conduct a gap analysis. A gap analysis identifies the gaps (holes) between the current and future state. Develop counter measures to close the gap and implement the future state process.

The goal of a VSM is to clearly see (visually) the value in each step from the beginning of a process to the end. By creating a current and future state, you should weed out the non-value-added steps and further eliminate the 7 wastes.

Further Research:

Value Stream Mapping: Making Improvements That Add Value

© April 2010 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo



  1. […] Value Stream Maps – Visualizing Waste dal blog Lean Homebuilding di J.C. Gatlin: Value stream mapping nel campo delle costruzioni (traduzione automatica) […]

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