In this article series, we covered several topics in the area of product development and project management. We will now begin to explore process improvement with the topic “Design for Lean”. While design for lean may be a subtopic within product development, it helps us understand operational risks, operational costs, enables operational planning and process improvement.
An operational process is required to commercialize any product (or service). Accordingly, the future state operational process can be characterized with a foundational lean tool: the value stream map (VSM).
A value stream map provides a graphical representation of the value chain to the customer. A simplified representation of a VSM is provided as follows:
(Note that future articles will provide more details on VSM and lean manufacturing.)
Recall our foundational objective for our customer is to maximize value and minimize cost. This includes providing a product that has value as well as a manufacturing (or operational) value chain that makes value flow at the pull of the customer and minimizes waste. The sooner we understand the future state value chain in the product development process, the better.
Let’s consider a couple of examples:
In these examples, the scope of the project may have been minimized, however, with a costly impact on the operational process. During the design phase of your product development process, consider a value stream map of your the future state to validate and model your operational costs. As your operational process becomes more mature, the VSM can be updated and analyzed on an ongoing basis for continuous improvement.