It is the most powerful tool in the world. Based on my experience of visiting world class companies globally, 5S was implemented first because the place has to be cleaned and organized before you can even think of making any process improvement.
Things have to be in place and everything should have a place. Let me share with you another very powerful tool called Value Stream Management in the journey of achieving Operational Excellence (OPEX). The tool to accomplish it is the similarly named value steam mapping (VSM).
The difference between the two is that the management step lays down the foundation and the mapping step defines specific steps and a blueprint to accomplish the goals. VSM is a tool that helps you see and understand the flow of material/document/information as a product or a service makes its way through the value stream. It is a visual representation of every process from start to finish and a method to develop a future state map that minimizes waste and clearly depicts how value should flow. It helps plan to make the future state a reality.

VSM is a process that helps to:

  • Follow a product’s path from supplier to customer (Figure 1).
  • See and understand the flow of material and information as a product makes it way through the value stream.
  • Draw a visual representation of every process in the material and information flow.
  • Draw a future state map that minimizes waste in the entire information and material process.
  • VSM helps product managers visualize more than just single-process level in operation. After VSM, it becomes easy to see waste and identify its sources.
  • VSM also provides associates and managers with a common language.

Finally, VSM provides a beginning-to-end blueprint for improvement. It shows the relationship between information flow (such as orders, e-mails, package labels, etc.) and the material flow during operations.