One of the most common arguments levied at business improvement professionals is that Six Sigma and Lean work well in manufacturing but their methods and tools, such as Value Stream Mapping, do not translate well in the service industry – for more on this argument you can check out our article Six Sigma for All: The Service Vs Manufacturing argument is dead. Initiatives like Six Sigma and Lean and tools like Value Stream Mapping thrive in a variety of businesses – and are not restricted by non-manufacturing environments –

Value Stream Mapping isn’t a difficult tool to use there are four major steps

1/ Map the current state
2/ Look for quick wins and implement rapid changes
3/ Produce a future state
4/ Implement the future state and control

The key steps when Value Stream Mapping in any industry (manufacturing or service related) is walking the process and getting stuck into the detail – gather the data and listen to ideas from the employees who do the job. This method is universal and does not differ when working in a service industry – getting into the detail of the process is crucial if your value stream mapping exercise is to succeed.

To see how Value Stream Mapping can be applied to the service industry check out some examples below.

Value Stream Mapping – Healthcare

Healthcare is a great example of where Value Stream Mapping can bring real benefits – Healthcare, like many industries, is faced with pressures of lead time and cost –wait times are crucial to patient satisfaction and through effective process mapping – bottlenecks can be found and removed. Check the sites below for some great examples of using VSM in a hospital environment

Value Stream Mapping – Finance & Office environment

One of the toughest nuts to crack with Value Stream Mapping is showing how it can be applied in an office environment. Surprisingly VSM is really effective when analysing standard business processes – Procurement, Finance, HR can all use the tool to highlight process waste and reduce lead-times. It can be particulary effective where large amounts of processing is carried out – purchasing teams in particular can benefit from this approach as a traditional purchase order may go through several stages of processing (creation, validation, approval etc) in it’s lifecycle and can be subjected to various non value add activities.

For further ideas check out:

In summary – Value Stream Mapping can be of great benefit whatever the industry – as a tried and tested methodology for mapping material and information flows it provides detailed process information in a concise way that is easy to understand while providing a robust foundation on which to build your continuous improvement programs.

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