Finding the Value in Value Stream Mapping in Workforce Development

Taylor Troiani ·

Value Stream Mapping Enhances Efficiency

Navigating the complex landscape of workforce development requires a keen understanding of processes that seamlessly connect job seekers with employment opportunities. One powerful tool that has proven invaluable in streamlining these processes is the Value Stream Map (VSM). Originating from Toyota's lean manufacturing methodology, VSMs serve as comprehensive guides that outline the entire journey from initiation to the delivery of a service or product. In this blog, we will delve into the significance of Value Stream Mapping in the realm of workforce development, exploring its structure, benefits, and the impact it has on enhancing efficiency within organizations like EDSI.

What is a Value Stream Map (VSM)?

In general terms, a VSM is a flow that provides an overview of a process. Toyota Motor Company is known for utilizing this process when developing a lean manufacturing methodology for their production line. VSMs include all steps of the process that are required to deliver a finalized product or service to a customer. They are created to ensure that delivery is as efficient as possible.

What does a VSM look like?

A VSM is essentially a more detailed flowchart that follows a clear path from start to finish. When constructing a value stream map, it typically consists of three main sections: the customer, the value adding processes, and the support processes. The map begins with the customer, followed by a series of process boxes that represent each step involved. Information such as processing times, cycle times, and inventory levels may be included to provide a comprehensive view of the flow. See the samples below, depicted in 3 phases:

What are the benefits of a VSM?

A VSM details out an entire process from start to finish, so it greatly benefits anyone who is not familiar with the process. Having this document on file allows you to look backward, look ahead and jump in at any step. They can be especially beneficial when training new staff members to allow them to understand their responsibilities and how they impact others.

“For programs that do not have VSMs, there is clearly a need for them. Without VSMs, there is often confusion and lack of understanding, which can cause a lack of confidence in the staff’s ability to do jobs. After completion of a VSM, there is a light bulb which provides the team with a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie. Staff then know the expectations of their role and how it relates to their colleagues, which also provides a sense of accountability. There tends to be growing pains initially but ultimately it helps with efficiency, gives an idea of what steps ahead look like, and the ability to explain their role to others.” --Stella McKittrick, EDSI Project Consultant

How are VSM's used in Workforce Development?

VSM's are used to outline the flow in which a participant would journey through a program. VSMs are a cornerstone of our operational excellence.

They enable teams and organizations to:

1.Visualize Processes: VSMs offer a clear visual of our workflows, fostering a shared understanding among our staff.

2. Identify Efficiency Gaps: We use VSMs to pinpoint non-value-adding activities and bottlenecks, streamlining processes.

3. Promote Collaboration: VSMs encourage cross-functional teamwork, aligning with our culture of staff investment.

4. Drive Continuous Improvement: Regular VSM updates foster innovation and efficiency.

5. Enhance Client Satisfaction: Streamlined processes lead to faster delivery, boosting client satisfaction.

How do you go about creating a VSM?

Organizations like EDSI have several facilitators that can assist in developing these process flows. A working session is typically scheduled with the facilitators and program staff to discuss the current process that they are following. The facilitators have a variety of experience in operations and other areas of workforce development, so they are able to offer broad-range suggestions for a more seamless flow.

How many VSMs does an organization like EDSI have?

There are currently 126 program VSMs on file at EDSI. When submitting proposals for new areas, funders may request a customer flow chart which leads us to create a VSM. While they are not usually required, our goal is to move towards all programs having a VSM which will be updated every 6 months. This will ensure that program staff is always performing effectively and efficiently.

Does a VSM session offer any additional benefits?

A VSM session encourages each staff member to speak about their piece of the current process and offer suggestions for continuous improvement. Typically, the sessions address the current state in which the process is being addressed and offer an opportunity to discuss future state and how actions should be addressed moving forward. It can also be helpful in identifying any bottlenecks or barriers in the process and discovering ways to improve in these areas.

How do Value Stream Maps ultimately benefit the job seeker/customer?

Value Stream Maps play a pivotal role in benefiting job seekers and customers by ensuring a smoother and more efficient journey throughout the employment-seeking process. By providing a clear visual representation of the entire workflow, VSMs empower workforce development professionals to identify and eliminate inefficiencies, resulting in faster and more effective delivery of services to job seekers. This, in turn, enhances the overall experience for the customer, streamlining the path to employment and increasing satisfaction.

How do Value Stream Maps extend their benefits beyond workforce development to other industries?

The advantages of Value Stream Mapping extend well beyond the confines of workforce development. Industries across the spectrum, from manufacturing to service-oriented sectors, can leverage VSMs to visualize and optimize their processes. Whether it's identifying bottlenecks, streamlining workflows, or fostering collaboration among team members, the principles embedded in Value Stream Mapping are universally applicable. As organizations strive for operational excellence, the insights gained from VSMs prove instrumental in driving continuous improvement and enhancing overall efficiency, making it a valuable asset across diverse industries.

Interested in learning more about how VSM's can take your organization to next-level efficiency? Fill out this quick form and one of our team members will get in touch!

About the author

Taylor Troiani is a seasoned content contributor specializing in Value Stream Mapping (VSM). With a rich background in workforce development, Taylor brings two years of expertise in proposal writing, coordination, and marketing to Workforce Development Consulting Firm, Educational Data Systems, Inc (EDSI).

Beyond her professional endeavors, Taylor finds joy in exploring new places through travel. She is also an avid golfer and lover of all animals.