How value stream management can provide a clear way forward
Value stream management is less an empty buzzword and more a fresh way of thinking. However, many businesses may be cautious to adopt. In this article, Bob Davis explains why VSM may be the right solution for your organization.
VSM – another acronym for a new approach that many businesses may be cautious to adopt.
But value stream management is less an empty buzzword and more a fresh way of thinking. Every business is working to integrate the latest methodologies that can help it stay ahead of the competition, and one way to make processes faster and more efficient is with VSM.
By increasing the level of visibility available to all areas of business, VSM identifies where to focus on streamlining activity, and enables every employee from the CIO to developers to see each other in plain sight.
Creating a clear view for the CIO
With customer expectations constantly on the rise, and competition ever increasing between rival businesses, to stand out from the crowd, businesses are recognizing that they need to prioritize value first and foremost. While the speed of your delivery is still just as crucial, working out the value stream of products and applications is the way forward.
As one of the key leaders in any business, the CIO is responsible for ensuring that the best possible value is provided for all customers, and having visibility into how to do so is becoming a number one consideration. But implementing innovative techniques in your business, without increasing the cost or decreasing quality, can be challenging and relies on the CIO understanding:
- Modern architecture – changes to this require the reduction of technical debt while moving workloads to the cloud and extending the use of automation where possible
- Culture shift – teams within any business need to work towards better collaboration, particularly where their tools and approaches vary
- Market pressures – the increasing move to prioritize growth, any threat from competitors, or fears around security lacking in strength
The end goal for CIOs is for deliveries to be faster and of a higher quality to ultimately provide better value for customers, and this can be made possible through a well-managed VSM approach. Implementing this correctly enables all of the teams in a business to work together to deliver software efficiently, quickly and at scale, and provides the CIO with the extensive visibility that is required to oversee this process and keep it running smoothly.
Making the most of your management
With businesses made up of multiple layers all needing to work in harmony with each other, the management layer can be thought of as the glue that holds this complex system together. While the CIO manages the company from the top down and needs visibility over all of this, the development teams are the ones working to produce the final result for the customer. To ensure that these levels follow the same direction – and work towards the same value goal – the management layer supervises the product development teams and simultaneously provides insight on this for the CIO. To do this successfully, it needs to overcome the roadblocks that are unique to this layer.
As the number and variety of development teams continue to increase, the management layer is responsible for promoting collaboration between them, whether they are familiar with DevOps methodologies already or not. This relies on the management setting out a universal language and system of reporting to assist in keeping everyone in sync with each other. With value for the customer being kept as the end goal, it is vital that everyone understands how and why this needs to be achieved.
However, it is not only the people that need to be managed but also the testing and QA metrics. The management layer is increasingly being expected to integrate automation more frequently throughout its business, as waterfall methods are not enough to satisfy customers anymore. To provide better value and quicker deliveries, a VSM approach – where value is mapped out from the start – can help the management layer to identify where any unnecessary activities or processes can be phased out and replaced with simpler, more efficient and possibly automated alternatives to reach the conclusion faster.
Providing product teams with invaluable insight
Teamwork between each and every product team is necessary for effective application delivery. Requests are coming in from every side and teams need to have the collaboration methods in place to enable them to work simultaneously to produce the desired outcome, especially given that this increase will likely cause more issues that need to be resolved to achieve optimum value. For the product teams, in particular, the challenges this brings up can set back the pace of a delivery, and therefore teams need to be well-coordinated to keep any bottlenecks to a minimum.
One of the main benefits that VSM can provide is the ability to add security and compliance into the lifecycle from the outset. With these measures in place, teams can monitor how the applications meet these requirements and ensure that sufficient governance is integrated at every stage. Mapping out exactly where and when security features and updates need to be implemented prevents teams from having to make these crucial changes at the end of the pipeline, which can lead to delays in the delivery.
VSM provides full visibility to give product teams insight into the actions of every team in real-time, giving everyone the visibility they need to work as a collective group. But it is not only the people that are kept in sync – the tools that are being used by everyone are also connected which enables teams to monitor any changes as they happen. Every project status update is shared with every team, creating a constantly updating map of the full lifecycle and every individual process within it. For the developers, this allows them to focus on the task at hand and spend less time discussing the changes that they are implementing, as they can be confident that their updates are being shared across the business.
Though at first VSM can seem to be a challenging approach to implement, particularly if this style of thinking is new to your business, once the initial value mapping is underway, teams will quickly shine a light on where they believe they can save on time and money by automating or otherwise streamlining processes. As these changes are executed over time, teams at every level of the business will see the benefits that VSM delivers, as their visibility of these will have become crystal clear.