Remote Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Workshop

Value Stream Mapping workshop is a tool any business and product team must use to build products useful products.

Anca Onuta
7 min readApr 30, 2020

Value Stream is the end to end business process from the demand to the delivery. For example, we have the process since Ben had the idea to order a pizza until he finished eating it with his family. Another example will be when Anne got the idea of wanting a car until she’s using it.

Remote Value Streams Mapping Workshop — the steps, the actors and the tools
Remote Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Workshop

The goal of the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Workshop is to identify the business process issues and define actions to improve them and reduce waste.

When do we need to do the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Workshop?

VSM Workshop helps you to see the big picture. It is definitely at the beginning of your processes. Most of the times, I use the VSM in 2 contexts:

  • when I start a new collaboration with a client who has an existing product or a current organization to understand where the issues are
  • in SAFe implementations of an organization which does development on existing systems to identify where the focus should be

What are the deliverables of the VSM Workshop?

  • map of the current process
  • diagram of the future process with the highlights of the improvements
  • performance metrics
  • the transformation plan to achieve the improvements

Who should participate in the VSM workshop?

You’ll need a champion — someone who can make decisions. You’ll need a facilitator, process owners, managers, and employees throughout the organization involved in the critical manufacturing, service, and administrative processes that require efficiency improvements. There must be between 6–8 persons, seven ideally. Not more.

Tools you need to run the Value Stream Mapping workshop remotely:

  • video conference tools: Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams
  • collaborative tools: Miro, Mural, Lucidcharts
  • tools to track the improvements: Jira, TFS, GIT

While selecting the tools, apply the golden rule of minimum training time for the participants.

Preparation work for the Remote Value Streams Mapping workshop:

  • identify the value streams
  • Select the one to focus on
  • define the scope, the problem statement, the objectives, and the metrics of the workshop
  • identify an executive sponsor or a champion — take decisions and provides guidance
  • empower the team. The workshop aims to identify the initiatives that will be implemented by the team. For that, you’ll need a motivated team.
  • setup the tools and handouts

A tip for the facilitator:

During the workshop, it is valuable to address regularly the following questions:

  • What problems are we trying to solve?
  • What are the deliverables of this workshop?
  • What are the expectations of our processes? Deliver faster, cheaper, high quality?
  • Are we delivering value and minimize waste?

If you are doing the Value Stream Mapping workshop remotely, I recommend you split it over three days to allow room for discussions and enable the participants to take care of their other duties.

The schedule of the Remote Value Streams Mapping workshop is:

  • Day 1: Create the map Map out the AS-IS state
  • Day 2: Brainstorm and map the TO-BE state
  • Day 3: Identify improvements, actions, assign owners, identify costs

Before we get started, here are the things to focus on:

  • customer-centric
  • strategic direction
  • entire value streams, no silos
  • identify waste — visibility on the opportunities
  • measure- what is the current performance of the system

To better understand the process of VSM, I’ll take a context example: Anne wants to buy a car. Out value, the stream is from the identification of the vehicle until the delivery.

Step 1: Identify the actors that are part of the current process

In our example, we will have:

  • Anne — the buyer
  • Johny — the car dealer
  • Tom — the engineer responsible for maintaining the sales systems
  • Bank of COVID-19 — the bank that offers the credit to Anne
  • Jimmy — the car delivery

Step 2: Identify the process steps (high level)

In Anne’s experience of buying a car, we identified the following process steps:

  • Try the car
  • Buy the car
  • Delivery of the car
Value Stream Mapping Workshop: The process to identify the stream of value

Step 3: Identify the activities performed in each step

In this step, the participants will identify all the actions possible in each step. One of the common mistakes I see is that the level of detail isn’t the same, and depending on the area of experience of people, there will seem to be unbalanced depth. In our case, we’ll have the following actions:

Try the car:

  • find the nearest car dealer
  • book a meeting with the dealer
  • book an appointment to try the car
  • try the car

Buy the car:

  • get an appointment with the dealer
  • fill in the forms
  • take an appointment with the dealer for the credit
  • evaluate the credit offers
  • check credit alternatives
  • sign credit
  • make payment

Car delivery:

  • schedule car delivery
  • buy insurance
  • pick up the car
Identify the activities which are part of the value stream as part of the Remote Value Stream Mapping Workshop
Remote Value Stream Mapping Workshop: Identify the activities that are part of the value stream

Step 4: Define work in progress between the stages at this moment

These should be actual numbers from your system. That will give a great picture of the real situation.

  • Try the car: 10
  • Buy the car: 25
  • Car delivery: 5

Step 5: Identify the rework — the points where the client changes opinions, wants something else, is not satisfied with the work done

Try the car:

  • clients take several appointments for multiple cars
  • clients try various times a vehicle before buying it

Buy the car:

  • change in the credit and assurance

Car delivery:

  • 1 in 5 vehicles need adjustments before delivery

Step 6: Add additional information that you the group finds useful — some processes aren’t worth to optimize, experience, things to consider (blue post-its)

Car delivery:

  • the minor adjustments are “owned risk” — the car manufacturers prefer to deliver faster and let the local shops do the small fine-tune rather than paying their employees to do the car's final tests and fine-tunes.

Step 7: Calculate

  • process time (the execution time of a task)
  • wait time (the time when no process occurs),
  • lead time (the execution time of an activity),
  • total process time (sum of all the activities which are part of the process) = 8 months,
  • total lead time (sum of all the processes) = 8 days
  • Process Cycle Efficiency( Total Process Time / Total Lead Time *100%) = 5% (we consider only the working days of the month)

Step 8 Identify Customer Value Add and Non-Value Add activities

Customer Value Add:

  • try the car
  • fill in the forms
  • sign credit
  • make payment
  • buy insurance
  • pick up the car

Customer Non-Value Add:

  • find the nearest car dealer
  • book a meeting with the dealer
  • book an appointment to try the car
  • get an appointment with the dealer
  • take an appointment with the dealer for the credit
  • evaluate the credit offers
  • check credit alternatives
  • schedule car delivery

Step 9: Set the actions to take and assign owners and plan the actions

Try cars:

  • select the vehicle to try based on an assessment and have the meeting with the dealer at the same time

Buy cars:

  • partner with the most popular banks to be able to offer a credit solution while filling in the forms to buy the car

Step 10: Load into your improvement tools the actions you decided.

Doing the workshop in remote might be challenging at first, but it does level up the social relationships and contribute to everyone. Out of my experience, I can say that such kind of workshops done remotely are even more productive than in person because there are fewer side talks.

I would love to know what your experience is?

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