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INTERVIEW QUESTION:

What is Value Stream Mapping and how is it performed?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 22030 Views // 2 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, SDLC, Process, and Methodologies

ANSWER

Part of the role of both business analysts and systems analysts alike is to improve upon existing processes.  Many analysts learn standard notations such as BPMN and UML for mapping AS-IS and TO-BE processes, but far fewer take the time to learn methods that can help to optimize the process that they document. When applied to a documented process, Value Stream Mapping can help business analysts and systems analyst arrive at an improved and optimized process.

Value stream mapping originated in the manufacturing industry and was used to optimize manufacturing processes.  It is often applied as part of the Six Sigma methodology. Since then value stream mapping has just as effectively been used to optimize business and system processes.  

Value stream mapping looks at the suppliers and customers of a process, the information and materials used and created (including queues and inventories), and process times of activities.  In a business environment, the suppliers and customers can be business workers, part of an organization, or another company while the material and information is business information and documents.
 
When documenting the AS-IS process, each step should capture the following information:
  • Who provides the information needed
  • What input information is required
  • How long does the activity take
  • What output information is produced
  • Who uses the output information (or which next process step)
BPMN is a great notation to use for value stream mapping since it supports conventions for defining much of this information.
 
Then each step of the AS-IS process is examined and categorized as 
  • value add
  • non-value add (but still necessary, such as overhead)
  • waste

Categorizing each step with one of these three values identifies the true value stream within the process.  By coupling this information with the performance management data (task time), the business or systems analyst can optimize the process by eliminating waste and balancing information and material queues such that the demand of the customer is met or so that process output is maximized.

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Chris Adams
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ADDITIONAL ANSWERS / COMMENTS

Gena Beam posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 11:10 PM
BPMN has a focus on business processes, the UML has a focus on software design and therefore the two are not competing notations but are different views on systems.
Chris Adams posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 6:20 PM
UML Activity diagrams can be used to map processes including business processes. That is why I mentioned UML as an option as well as BPMN. While I agree the UML was developed primarily with systems and software in mind, the usage of the UML notation has grown and has been leveraged for other business purposes over the years.
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

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