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They need to be a high performing one. And taking on this challenge can be complicated. This is because today’s CIOs have a mandate to create more business value with fewer resources. However, too often, the headlong pursuit of higher productivity in software delivery leads to well-intentioned initiatives that ultimately fall short of their goals.
In many ways, it is still uncharted territory. For example, it is still a struggle just to measure improvement on the DevOps journey. Without a clear roadmap for achieving these gains, many organizations’ software delivery factories become chaotic and pressure-filled.
Software products and services that delight customers are what fuel the growth of organizations today. But to manage value streams, organizations need to first gain end-to-end visibility and control of the multiple, interconnected value streams throughout their portfolio.
While standing up a CICD (continuous integration / continuous delivery) pipeline is essential, this infrastructure only creates the potential for a strong software delivery process and superior DevOps performance. What delivers on that potential is having a strong, customer-centric product development cycle that seamlessly brings together the efforts of product owners, release or development managers, risk and compliance teams, as well as engineering teams. When done well, a strong end-to-end SDLC enables organizations to continuously improve and become a great software company.
Value stream management involves taking a look at all the steps in the software delivery process from idea to production – the value stream – and then identifying silos, bottlenecks, and other inefficiencies in the flow of work to the customer receiving the product.
A software value stream includes every activity – from idea to production – needed to deliver software products or services to customers. Ultimately the value of software products is determined by the customer. Software products or services that continually deliver value to customers will, in turn, drive business value.
f an organization manages software delivery in terms of value streams, it can identify what steps are value-adding, and which create waste to begin to optimize the flow of work through the value stream. This includes where there are delays, where there are more defects and rework being created, and insights into how to remove that waste. That’s why you begin with a current state value stream map.
Without looking at the entire value stream, you will have incomplete data. You will have to rely on proxy metrics to understand what’s going on, such as story point velocity, and not be able to directly improve on what’s holding you back from becoming a high performing software organization.
Forrester defines value stream management as “A combination of people, process, and technology that maps, optimizes, visualizes, and governs business value flow (including epics, stories, work items) through heterogeneous enterprise software delivery pipelines. Value stream management tools are the technology underpinnings of the VSM practice.”
To manage value streams from end-to-end, operational silos between tools and teams must first be broken down. By converging toolchains throughout the portfolio with value stream management platforms, teams can view the flow of work across the organization in real-time. This unlocks the ability not only to measure what is in the value streams now, but how they got there, and trends over time.
Teams start by working with the DevOps metrics that capture the throughput and stability of their value streams. These metrics are used as indicators of the health of your value stream and how it is changing over time.
These metrics build on the concept of the flow item to provide insight into what is happening within the value stream itself. A flow item is a unit of work that matters to the business: feature, defect, risk, or debt.
There are six Value Stream Flow Metrics, each looking at a different aspect of your value stream. Together they evaluate how work flows through your value stream so you can understand how your planning, release and investment decisions are improving and protecting your value delivery and how you are progressing on your DevOps journey.
It begins by creating a value stream map, identifying the desired business outcomes, and implementing a value stream management platform.
Full time dad and IT enthusiast for the rest.
Software delivery is only becoming more complex. At the same time, it continues to be ever more important, as it is a necessary core competency for organizations across industries, no matter their product or service.
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