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Value Stream Mapping Software – Good to use?

As Value stream mapping becomes ever more common, various software tools have emerged on the market all aimed at making your life easier when it comes to carrying out a mapping program.

Traditional value stream mapping projects tended to be carried out using tried and trusted methods – white paper, pens and post it notes (used for capturing issues and ideas). But given that a wide variety of software tools are available – do they offer any benefits over the usual methods

Value Stream Mapping software typically falls into one of two camps. Firstly theirs the traditional basic mapping software. One of the most powerful examples of these is Microsoft’s Visio software. This type of software provides value stream mapping symbols and tools to build a diagram including connectivity between shapes – it generally doesn’t have too much other functionality – but if all you require is diagrammatic tools then that should suffice. One substantial benefit when working in a team is that software like this can help everyone follow a common standard – which makes it easier in the long-run when you need to interpret the diagram.

As for Visio – well it’s been around for ages but only recently (the Visio 2007 release) did it have full support for value stream mapping – upto that point you were limited to using third party stencils for adding appropriate shapes. Visio 2007 features a rich template of shapes and tools for VSM diagrams.

The other type of software is advanced mapping software (for example as provided by – typically whilst having similar functionality to what we discussed above – it will also come equipped with tools to help analyze the results – for example calculating lead times, inventory costs and planning from the data gathered as part of the VSM exercise. Many advanced mapping tools will also offer rudimentary project planning tools to help guide you through the exercise from the current state map to the future state map. These tools can save a lot of time – and for those that aren’t too familiar with VSM programs can help by providing a structure to follow with inbuilt analytics.

There are a number of benefits of Value Stream Mapping Software, from simplifying the design stage to full program support – Value stream mapping has become extremely popular over the last 10 years and in support, software vendors will continue to develop functionality and ease of use, making the purchase of software VSM tools even more compelling.

For further information visit our Value stream mapping resources minisite.


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