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How value stream mapping and management accelerate digital transformation

Accelerate digital transformation with value stream mapping and management

The digital divide is real

The last few years have taught us that the gap between innovators and ‘stagnators’ is only getting wider. Digital transformation is essential for any organisation wanting to stay relevant, let alone disrupt or dominate. It requires innovation, adoption, and acceleration at an unprecedented rate. Why? Because users expect more – more new ideas, more speed, and more impact from the software they use – and they ask for it too. 

Being able to pivot to take advantage of new opportunities and give customers what they're asking for (or predict what they're going to want before they want it) is vital. Being able to deliver value, fast, is everything.

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What is value?

Customers will trade money and show loyalty when your product provides value. Understanding value is key to enabling a team and process to deliver value in an effective manner.

Too often, companies become siloed feature factories, pumping out activities mistaken for progress towards customer value. But therein often lies vast amounts of waste.

Instead, you need a more holistic, consolidated view of how your teams are able to deliver that value. You need to understand your ability to "flow" value from fuzzy ideas to concrete value in your ens users' hands.

This is a value stream – an end-to-end sequence of activities where work, materials, and information flow in a coordinated and streamlined manner to deliver real value, including products, services, and results.

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What is value stream mapping?

Value stream mapping is a process to help you visualise – and more importantly improve – how you deliver the products and services that your customers need. You can use it to understand how long every stage takes (and the hand-offs in between those stages), and how making changes to the process can affect the speed and quality of the value customers receive.

The more detail you can add, the better. At Adaptavist, we like to start with a breadth-first approach, and then add depth (detail) where needed. The simple act of value stream mapping will help you see the knock-on effect of delays and hand-offs, of batch processing, etc., making a clear case for process improvements and showing everyone in your organisation how value flows through it.

Value stream mapping helps you to:

Reduce waste – by looking closely at every step in your backlog, and you can identify where waste lies and think about how to reduce it. Waste comes in various forms, including releasing partially complete work, extra features that a user hasn’t requested, relearning because of new tech or missing documentation, handoffs because of role changes or poor communication, delays caused by dependencies, task switching, defects, and more.

Be objective – with the bigger picture made clearer, you can take a holistic view of workflow rather than always considering every element independently. Value stream mapping, by its nature, is objective and rational, helping to keep people's opinions out of the process and focus on the facts.

Bring teams together – building a value stream map is a collaborative effort. It requires all teams to contribute their knowledge, putting all the information about how the organisation delivers value in one place to create a shared understanding. 

Record information – when staff move teams or leave the organisation, they take their knowledge, process experience, and momentum with them. Value stream mapping ensures that knowledge is not held solely in people's heads. If they do leave, it ensures your value stream doesn't dry up in the process.

Shockingly, as part of this process, we have seen many teams experience learning what others do for the first time. It truly allows for a deeper perspective on what is really going on in the organisation. And this broader understanding often leads to simplification and massive improvements.

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What is value stream management?

Value stream management (VSM) consolidates all that data in real-time – what type of waste you’re dealing with and where it lies – which is typically based on different stakeholders’ observations. VSM tools help you monitor what’s happening, codify it, and make decisions about where improvements can be made. This supports the old adage: ‘You can’t improve what you don’t measure.’ (Of course, that’s often followed by: ‘Be careful what you measure – you might get it!’)

Rather than conducting value stream mapping alone to identify short-term process improvements for one product or service, use these management tools to identify and map multiple streams across the organisation, share pain points, recognise where opportunities lie, and assess these in light of your strategic objectives.

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How does value stream mapping and management support digital transformation?

Digital transformation can’t happen without process and operational efficiency. Value stream mapping and management give you a unified and validated view of the work that’s taking place now and how long it’s taking, as well as the value of work you’ll deliver in the future. 

This approach shows where improvements can be made and where work isn’t aligned with strategic initiatives and organisational objectives, encouraging data-driven decision-making. By increasing the flow of the value stream and optimising processes, you will be able to adapt to trends and the opportunity to innovate far more easily.

Ultimately, digital transformation is a never-ending journey, where maintaining momentum is key. As part of that journey, value stream mapping and management help to not only unite teams in improving the quality and speed of the work they deliver but also keep everyone focused on strategic objectives, opportunities to innovate, and what value really looks like for the customer. 

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Unlock more value today

If you’re interested in implementing VSM thinking and tools as part of your transformation, we’re here to help. Find out more about our end-to-end DevOps solutions today.

Get in touch.

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About the authors

Larissa Frisina

Larissa Frisina

Partner Marketing Manager

Jon Kern