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Value stream mapping training helps agency increase efficiency

Sierra College program helps ag industry
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California’s agricultural production is valued at $43 billion, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture is responsible for protecting this sector of our economy. To continuously improve the efficiency of its operations, the Plant Division of CDFA selected the Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies to provide three days of Value Stream Mapping training in March.

The goal of the training was to give employees additional tools to identify areas for improvement, explained Deborra Murphy, staff services manager. The VSM course built on the Lean Principles training that was conducted in the fall.

“Previously, staff learned basic Lean Principles, strategies to reduce waste and ways daily operations could become more efficient,” Murphy said. “As a result, staff identified where processing times may be reduced and staff is more aware of activities that add value to our customers.”

In the Value Stream Mapping course, participants gained another method for enhancing operations. Employees selected a real process and drew a picture using standard VSM symbols that showed each step, who is involved, how long it takes, the distance traveled and the bottlenecks or hold-ups.

“From the current state Value Stream Map, we gained a greater awareness of the roles each branch played in the process,” Murphy said. “By drawing what really happens at each stage, we were able to identify gaps and areas for improvement.”

Next, the participants drew an ideal future-state Value Stream Map that eliminated many of the steps that caused delays and did not add value to the end-user.

“Not only is VSM an excellent tool, it helps a group from different areas come together and better understand each other,” Murphy said. “As a result of the training, the group identified and assigned tasks for completion. Our staff found the process to be insightful and the overall response was very positive. They have shared what they learned with their peers and staff to enhance current processes.”

The Continuous Improvement Network (www.cacinetwork.com) is an association of business leaders committed to learning and sharing best practices and continuous improvement methods. The Sierra College CACT (www.sierracollegetraining.com) is funded through the Workforce and Economic Development program of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. Since 1992, the Sierra College CACT has provided customized training for organizations, manufacturers and technology companies throughout Northern California. Additional information is available at www.sierracollegetraining.com or contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge at (916) 660-7801 or cpepper-kittredge@sierracollege.edu.