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The Value Stream: Providing A Common Language Between Business Leaders and IT Professionals

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The Value Stream: Providing A Common Language Between Business Leaders and IT Professionals

It's no surprise that software development professionals and IT leaders don't always see eye to eye with business executives. The two groups often have diffe...

· Agile Zone ·
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It's no surprise that software development professionals and IT leaders don't always see eye to eye with business executives. The two groups often have different goals and priorities. It is, after all, human nature to be most mindful of those concerns which affect you on a daily basis. For the developer, that might be infrastructure stability and for a CFO, it probably has more to do with balancing the ledger in a straightforward manner. Meanwhile, the CEO is concerned with appeasing investors. In recent years, however, one concept has helped to unite teams all across the organization: value stream management (VSM).

This idea, taught in business schools across the country, is a great unifier and rallying point. In fact, I've recently seen many executive-level people getting involved in decisions around software development and the VSM conversation is what makes that possible.

Before we get much further, let's very quickly define value stream management. This is a shift in focus from how fast an organization can deliver a product or application, and instead concentrates on how much business value an organization can deliver at speed. It then looks further at how every customer product, service, or application has its own value stream. The concept meshes really well with some of the prevalent concepts in both business (like being "customer-obsessed") as well as dev concepts (like delivering maximum value through incremental improvements, a key tenet of Agile principles).

However, the reason that both CIOs and CFOs, for instance, are taking notice of VSM across the entire software delivery pipeline is because of the massive benefits that are possible. As it stands, tech concepts like DevOps and Agile are really great at optimizing the build and deploy stages of the development pipeline, but focus less on what happens before and after that process. What that creates is a disconnected pipeline, where value is not necessarily mapped through the entire process and optimizing the entire workflow is nearly impossible.

This is where the concept of value stream management comes into play. Value stream tools enable business leaders across IT and operations to look at the entire scope of their development pipeline, optimizing value not only in the development stages, but going much further in mapping value through strategic planning, budgeting, road mapping, release and iteration planning, all the way to release automation and deployment.

The end result is an organization that becomes much more focused on delivering meaningful value, not only to the company's internal organizations by optimizing their workflows and increasing efficiencies, but more importantly, by delivering better products fast. It's driving more value for everyone — IT leaders, customers and the business.

Importantly, value stream management also serves as an effective way to provide greater organizational visibility to all stakeholders. This means breaking down barriers and increasing team collaboration and communication.

If this also sounds too good to be true, trust me, it's not — although it is by no means a simple task either. But with trusted partners and tools, value stream management can become a reality for your organization.

So if you're an IT leader feeling the pressure to deliver software releases more quickly without the visibility you need into the process and teams, you may wonder:value stream management is the best way to explain your challenges to the C-level and get the buy-in you need for Agile and DevOps initiatives. By focusing on something that both sides of the table understand, you can reach common ground in your discussion and better focus on how to make the best business decisions, based on what brings the most value to the business.

Want to learn more? Check out this recent webinar on Bringing value stream management to the Enterprise. 

Topics:
value stream ,value stream management ,leadership ,it professionals ,agile ,insight

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