Value Stream Management: Providing Visibility, Structure and Monitoring at Every Level

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Value Stream Management: Providing Visibility, Structure and Monitoring at Every Level

Adopting this approach can make a significant impact at every level of a business, improving collaboration and visibility for the benefit of all.

· Agile Zone ·
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From the smallest start-ups to the biggest corporations, every company now has to consider itself a software company, and there’s no room in this for half-hearted attempts at DevOps. One way to increase efficiency and ensure that processes are running smoothly is the implementation of value stream management (VSM). Adopting this approach can make a significant impact at every level of a business, improving collaboration and visibility for the benefit of all.

The CIO: Visibility From the Highest Point

Leading IT organizations are no longer concentrating on simply how fast they can deliver software, but on how much business value they can deliver at speed, and how every customer product, service or application has its own value stream.

This mindset shift has led CIOs to look closely at the software delivery process and how value flows through it. For CIOs to provide quality customer experiences, it has become crucial for those in the role to find a comprehensive way to measure all end-to-end activities. If they fail to measure these activities, they risk wasting resources to optimize something that isn’t a constraint for their organization.

With CIOs under pressure to create greater value for customers through innovation – all while reducing cost and improving quality – they are focusing on gaining holistic visibility into how this value is created.

Currently, there are three trends pushing CIOs:

  1. Reacting to market pressures such as competitive threats, security pressures and the shift to focusing on growth.
  2. Handling the shifting architecture by improving automation, transitioning to the cloud, and reducing technical debt.
  3. Improving culture by making an interconnected team, despite teams having diverse toolchains, geographies and methodologies.

CIOs are agnostic about the tooling they use, but they want them all to work together. They want to deliver greater value for their customers by whatever means possible to provide faster build time and better quality of delivery. A quality VSM solution connects the network of tools and teams for planning, building and delivering software at an enterprise level. With VSM, CIOs are able to overcome visibility issues to enable the entire team to deliver products faster and stay compliant.

The Management Layer: Synchronizing From Above and Below

In the structure of VSM, while the CIO oversees broad strategy from the top, it’s the development teams that work to get the job done. Yet, to synchronize the two, there needs to be a layer that communicates between them. A successful management layer sits in the middle overseeing development and reporting up to the CIO. Essentially, it’s the layer that translates the development methodology into the development process. However, being in the middle creates a specific set of challenges that the management layer faces and must get under control in order to succeed.

The first of these is overseeing a series of teams, some which are DevOps-oriented and some that need to be trained and introduced to the new philosophy. To corral these diverse teams under one directive, there needs to be a common language and nomenclature to address the different teams and get everyone working in the same direction. The management layer is also responsible for implementing governance. It is responsible for enforcing and ensuring governance in a reliable way without impacting frequency, throughput, velocity, or quality.

On top of this, the management layer has to deal with the metrics of testing and QA. Waterfall teams are tried-and-true, but to evolve an entire organization, management is tasked with automating as much as possible and shifting activities to the left in the development cycle. Ultimately, this boils down to efficiently mapping value, diligently looking for waste and incorporating those efforts into the metrics and process of delivery. The VSM management role requires an investigative reporter seeking out metrics that signify a problem of inefficacy or an opportunity in value.

The Product Team: Perfecting the Groundwork

The need to foster collaboration has never been more important with every company leveraging software and feeling pressure from customers and competitors alike. With this comes an uptick in the volume and velocity of product requests, which can in turn create issues that undermine time to value.

This can bring with it many headaches for an organization as a whole, but especially the product teams and their leaders who are under pressure to deliver faster and more frequently. Embracing VSM and collaboration can alleviate some of the pressure, ensure mistakes are minimized and show true value in the work that product teams are doing.

Governance, security, and compliance in particular need to be baked into the beginning of processes so that they can be tracked throughout the entire lifecycle; VSM gives teams the ability to do this. By bringing security into the product team and mapping it from the start, it removes the need for back peddling at the end and dramatically speeds up delivery time. Visibility is key to making this happen, as developers want to focus on their code and know that everything else will be handled.

VSM does exactly this. It allows product teams the ability to see and have transparency of what other teams are doing, as well as their own team, by making all of their work visible across the entire food chain. It allows tools to be interconnected to track changes and trends, and ensures work aligns with the initiatives that the owners originally intended. The system automatically updates everyone on the status of a project and provides visibility into their current progress, producing a clearer picture of the entire process from start to finish.

The best part of this alignment for developers is they don’t have to spend time in meetings reporting back and discussing their progress with the product teams. In fact, they don’t even have to speak to them at all, as everything is automated and each team sees the same things.

Despite the perceived challenges of the coordination and change in mindsets that are required to implement this approach, overall the long-term benefits of VSM far outweigh any temporary difficulties a business may face to integrate it. From the senior teams making business decisions, to the product teams working to ensure the delivery lifecycle runs smoothly, everyone profits from the visibility and collaboration that VSM provides, making it an approach that shouldn’t be missed out on.

agile, agile teams, value stream, value stream management

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