Value Stream Assessment Overview
What Is Value Stream Assessment?
Value Stream Assessment (VSA) is an approach that is used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of an enterprise's value stream(s) for the express purpose of creating a value stream driven solution (VSDS). VSA is a way of looking at an enterprise's business problems, within the context of the enterprise's value stream(s), with the objective of rapidly identifying a comprehensive solution to identified business problems. The intent of value stream assessment is to take a high level look at the business, in a compressed timeframe, with an eye for identifying opportunities for performance improvements across the breadth of the enterprise. The opportunities for improvement are not limited to one aspect of the business, but cross-organizational lines and cover managerial, operational, social and technological issues that are interrelated.
A value stream assessment project is high impact, short term and relatively low cost. It provides high-value feedback to the executive suite concerning the business, the business vision, management’s alignment with the vision, and the strengths and weaknesses of the enterprise in relation to achieving the vision. It shifts the focus of the enterprise from functions and organizations (internal focus) to satisfying the customer of the value stream (external focus). Ideally, value stream assessment projects are conducted in a matter of weeks - not months.
Understanding Value Streams
Before an understanding of value stream assessment can be achieved, there must be an understanding of value streams - what they represent and their boundaries. A value stream is an end-to-end collection of activities that create or achieve a result for a customer of the enterprise. The value stream is made up of everything that supports the value stream tasks and activities, including:
- the people who perform the tasks and their knowledge and skills
- the tools and technology that are used to perform and support the value stream tasks
- the physical facilities and environment in which the value stream resides
- the organization and culture of the enterprise which owns the value stream
- the values and beliefs that dictate the corporate culture and behaviors and affect the way in which work is accomplished
- the communications channels and the way in which information is disseminated through the enterprise
- the policies, procedures, and processes which govern the activities of the value stream
- the social systems that support the value stream
The Focus of Value Stream Assessment
Value stream assessment focuses on the activities of the enterprise’s value streams. It takes a rapid, high level look at the business within the context of the value streams. It focuses on rapidly identifying business problems and opportunities for improvement, defining solutions to resolve those problems and to take advantage of identified opportunities to effect improvement. Through value stream assessment, an unbiased understanding of the business, the vision, and the strategies upon which the business is founded, the way it operates, and its strengths and weaknesses are developed. The results of value stream assessment focus on the need for business improvement through change, defining the changes necessary to resolve business problems, and the ways to make that change happen.
Implications of Value Stream Assessment
Two major implications in value stream assessment center around the involvement of key senior resources and the reuse of corporate assets. Value stream assessment focuses on the business, the vision, the direction, and how to achieve them. Value stream assessment projects are strategically oriented. Their objectives are tied to those of the enterprise and they affect long term business strategies and practices. This requires the involvement of key executive resources and decision makers within the enterprise and comparable senior resources to manage and conduct the project activities.
VSA projects are completed within a matter of weeks. The rapid pace makes VSA dependent on the concepts of reuse. There are different types of reusable assets that expedite the delivery of VSA while minimizing risk. These include:
- Reuse of knowledge assets, such as technical templates, business templates, process templates, and package software.
- Reuse of skill assets - those skills with an industry focus and those skills with a technology focus. Reuse of process assets, including methodology, task structure and work plans, metrics, techniques and iterative delivery.
The MOST Perspective
The solutions identified in VSA are not limited to any single aspect of the business. In fact, a comprehensive value stream assessment will address all aspects of the value stream, and the solution posed will address all aspects of it comprehensively, including:
This means looking at the managerial aspects of the value stream to ensure that the management style and philosophies, organizational structure and hierarchy, methods of communication and messages about values and beliefs are compatible with the work requirements of the enterprise, promoting effectiveness and efficiency.
The operational aspects of the value stream are analyzed to ensure that the business processes, policies, and procedures support the work requirements, are cost effective and positioned to satisfy the needs of the customers of the value stream.
The social systems are assessed to ensure that job titles and descriptions, measurements, benefits, compensation and rewards, and training programs support and are in keeping with the work of the value stream.
The technological aspects of the value stream are assessed to ensure that technology is being utilized appropriately and leveraged to gain maximum benefit for the enterprise. Technology encompasses more than computer systems; it also includes other automated, laborsaving machinery and devices.
The way in which all of these aspects are bound together and leveraged to achieve maximum customer satisfaction is the true focus of VSA.