In today's world, software delivery is only becoming more complex. At the same time, it continues to grow in importance, as it's one of the necessary core competencies for organisations across many industries. Organisations simply can't stop at becoming software companies; they need to be up there as a high performing business. And taking on this challenge can be complicated.
Whilst agile and DevOps have helped organisations transform their software delivery processes; value streaming created the missing link to connect software delivery with business value. Yet, for value streaming to be truly effective, IT and business leaders must be aware of the challenges that need to be overcome.
What is Value Stream Mapping?
To understand Value Stream Mapping, you first need to understand what a "value stream" is. To put it simply, a value stream is a set of steps that occur to provide the product or service that their customers want or need.
To make sure you can provide the product or service that your customers need, every organisation has a series of required steps. Value Stream Mapping helps you to understand better what these steps are, where the value is, where it's not, and, more importantly, how to improve upon the process.
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) provides a clear and structured visualisation of the critical steps and data needed to understand and intelligently make improvements that refine the entire process.
What is Value Stream Management?
Value Stream Management is the process and automation that enables teams to manage dependencies across a complex organisation. It provides your business with key insights into how to break those dependencies to optimise flow along with supporting the transition to agile ways of working. By utilising VSM it enables automated, continuous compliance and auditability for your organisation.
To ensure Value Stream Management is successful, you have to invest across people, processes and tools, so it’s crucial that these investments are justified. VSM allows teams to be truly data-driven. It encourages and develops value stream thinking which seeks to optimise the flow of work from idea to value realisation, reducing wastage and accelerating the overall time to value.
The aim of value stream thinking is to supply your customers with valuable improvements as quickly as possible. Taking advantage of the value streams (including their associated products or services) that teams are working with also means your organisation can unlock value outcomes as soon as possible.
While the overall process of Value Stream Mapping is designed to be clear and concise, there are still some challenges IT and business leaders need to be aware of to ensure a successful flow of information.
Here are a few examples:
Current state vs future state map
Mapping out the process steps in the current state phase may be a challenge. It's vital that there is an understanding between participants regarding the production processes. The current state map should only include what the process currently looks like, highlighting bottlenecks and defects. The future state maps emerge as part of a team when designing the implementation plan.
Ensuring you have the right team
Having the right team of people will be vital to ensuring the success of VSM activities. The wrong people generate waste, so making sure the right people are in the group will help you achieve the goals set at the start of the value stream process. Coordinators will help the flow of communication and collaboration, encouraging lean best practices and maximising the time spent discussing outcomes.
Focus on the right metrics
Identifying the metrics that make the most sense for your organisation or the products and services your team is working on is critical. Be it Lead Time/Time to value, Deployment Frequency, Delivered Story Points or Flow efficiency (the number of time tickets spent in ‘active’ status versus ‘inactive’ statuses), focusing on the right metrics will ensure long term success.
Using the right tools
Technology is forever evolving, and the same goes for the tools which facilitate the VSM processes. Using the right tools for Value Stream Mapping will make it easier for stakeholders to visualise the current state and future state map. Similarly, using the right Value Stream Management Platforms (VSMP) to track the critical metrics will enable organisations to optimise end-to-end product delivery and help improve business outcomes. VSMPs are generally tool-agnostic and they connect to existing tools to ingest data from all phases of software product delivery all the way from customer need to value delivery.
Want to find out more?
Watch Adaptavist's Jobin Kuruvilla, Head of Solutions Strategy and presenter of DevOps Decrypted podcast, and guests including Andrew Davis from Copado on Day-to-Day DevOps with Helen Beal. They discuss the importance of value streaming in 2022 and the factors that DevOps teams must consider before adopting this strategy – including humans, processes, and technologies.