The Value of a Value Stream Map…and More

By Marcia Fort, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Data/QI Manager

Quality improvement training emphasizes “buy in” and “quick success” in order to bring about “culture change” where managers and employees at all levels are encouraged to be active participants in continuous quality improvement.  However, the mere mention of quality improvement can make some staff members run in fear!

Value Stream Mapping is an excellent tool to assist with employee buy-in and participation. This tool can be used to illustrate both where you are now (i.e., your current state) and where you want to go (i.e., your future state) for any process within your organization.  A Value Stream Map (VSM) is a simple diagram of every step involved in the process and information flow needed to provide a given service. Map development begins with observing the actual process, including some data collection, and then creating the VSM formally using computer software applications or informally using Post-it notes (see examples of both below).  To teach others, it can be fun to use common everyday processes such as making a sandwich, setting the dinner table, or making toast (see example below) allowing your group to learn how to create a VSM in a very non-threatening way.


Using this tool, you can identify the customer, each step in the process, each place where waiting occurs, the time it takes to complete each step or wait (cycle time), the total time elapsing between the start and completion of the entire process (lead time), and materials and technology used – all together, these details will stimulate numerous opportunities to improve your process (“starbursts”). 

The VSM is helpful in recognizing the complexity of some of our work and places where outdated and forgotten steps in the process might be eliminated.  Opportunities can be grouped together and prioritized as you continue working toward your future state.  VSMs are also a very good tool to use with visual learners. 

To learn more about VSMs and related tools, see the Ideas section of the CPHQ Step by Step Guide located here.




Programs supported by:

BlueCross BlueShield of NC FoundatoinThe Duke Endowment

Copyright © 2012 Center for Public Health Quality
5605 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27609 | Phone: 919.707.5012 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Joomla Template: by JoomlaShack