For business analysts or those involved with driving forward quality initiatives within businesses, there can be a feeling that there is no need to validate anything with those who are actually involved in the process itself. After all, their role is to produce the items or service, whereas those who are involved in management, quality or business analysis have probably already engaged staff in a workshop to facilitate the original process capture.

Well within any process mapping activity, and Value Stream Mapping is no exception there is a definite need to validate it with the shopfloor or process owners, or else the map will probably not be accurate and will therefore fail to identify the areas where improvements really can be made or where the deadly wastes lie within the production area.

Information And Material Flow

Value stream mapping is about information and material flow. The emphasis is often by default related to the material flow and not the information flow. So the information flow is seen as less important.

But what does information mean? Well in this case, there are some obvious pieces of information that need to be included within the VSM. These is the information relating to what the customer supplies in terms of how many of a product they require, when they need it, in what form etc. Further information such as delivery forecasts, MRP work queues, stock requests etc – in fact you might be surprised just how much information gets generated within a process.

Given the potential volume of information flow, including operators on the shop floor when validating a completed map is vital to ensuring that the VSM is accurate. Questions can be asked of the shop floor, and the process walked through to ensure completeness.

This has to be done in a non-threatening way. Within any organisation it is easy for information to be passed around but not retained by staff, or for operators to feel that they do not have sufficient information to be able to deal with problems and things that have not gone according to plan.

So staff should not feel that they are being ‘grilled’, the truth is being sought and the truth will be the driving force behind improvements, so there is no need for staff on the shop floor to feel threatened by this process. Indeed, it is actually a way of empowering them to be able to influence the VSM process itself.

Improvement For Everyone

One of the key aspects of any business improvement activity is buy in. It is important to have operators and those who are on the shopfloor validate and endorse the VSM because all sectors of the workforce have to be behind it and in favour (and understand) potential improvements for it to be effective.

Finally, there is always a difference between the theory of how things are done and the reality of how they are done on the shopfloor and using the opportunity to engage with operators who are very much at the frontline of production can highlight any differences. Once highlighted then these can be addressed if they do not offer any value within the production process.

So without input from staff who are very much involved with the actual reality of how things are done, any VSM will almost be a waste of time, since it will be a theoretical exercise only.

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