Value Stream Management: The Next Evolution in Software Development
It is with value stream management that large organizations are able to realize the Agile + DevOps performance they’ve been looking for.
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Software delivery is complex. I think most of us can agree with that statement. Yet, regardless of how confusing it is, it’s a vital core competency for all organizations, despite what industry they are in or what product they are building. Today, every organization finds itself needing to be a software company. But simply being a software company isn’t enough – they need to be a high-performing one.
Today’s CIOs constantly have this on their mind, as they are instructed to create more business value with fewer resources. But unfortunately, in many cases, the pursuit of higher productivity in software delivery results in well-intentioned initiatives that fall short of their goals.
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.
That’s where value stream management (VSM) comes in. The goal of VSM is to enable enterprises to delight their customers by delivering high-quality software products that create value. VSM achieves this through a systemic approach to software product development that allows organizations to become software juggernauts. With a complete view of the value stream, every aspect of the software delivery process is captured. This provides managers and leadership the problem-solving tools needed to continuously improve software development.
VSM empowers teams to continuously improve their software delivery factories to be able to deliver more value to their customers, faster. Enterprises can begin to understand their system as a whole without comparing data from one tool to another in a spreadsheet. And, the deep insights that result from analyzing a wide and diverse data set allow organizations to make data-driven decisions and innovate faster.
Measuring Work Flowing Through Value Streams
Managing value streams from end-to-end involves breaking down the operational silos between tools and teams. By converging toolchains throughout the portfolio with VSM platforms, teams can see the flow of work across the organization in real-time. This unlocks the ability to measure what is in the value streams, how they got there and trends over time. These real-time performance metrics can be a game changer for engineering and product teams. VSM platforms make this possible through business intelligence features which allow teams to focus on the most important metrics and track them in real-time.
To accurately measure workflow, teams start by working with the DevOps metrics that capture the throughput and stability of their value streams. There are four key DevOps metrics, as defined by the Accelerate State of DevOps Report:
- Deployment frequency: How often code is deployed to production
- Lead time: How long it takes from code being committed, to code successfully running in production
- Mean time to repair (MTTR): How long it takes to recover normal service when an incident occurs
- Change fail rate: The percentage of changes to production that result in poor service and require remediation
Value Stream Metrics
Once DevOps metrics have been incorporated, teams can then begin to integrate value stream metrics. The standard value stream metrics are:
- Lead time: The time from the customer’s perspective that it takes to deliver a capability – from commitment to the customer request to its release to end users.
- Cycle time: The time it takes for work items to go from ‘work start’ to ‘work complete.’
- Throughput: The number of work items of each type completed over a particular period of time.
- Flow efficiency: The ratio of active time vs. wait time out of the total Flow Time, highlighting when waste is increasing or decreasing.
- Work in progress: The number of work items currently in progress within a particular value stream so that teams can recognize over- and under-utilization of value streams.
- Work profile: The proportion of each work item type completed over a specific time. This makes it easier to prioritize specific tasks to meet strict deadlines.
Value Stream Governance and Workflow Automation and Orchestration
VSM is more than just metrics. In order to continually deliver software products and services that delight your customers, you need to act on business intelligence insights and make improvements while managing risk. VSM platforms allow development teams to do this by utilizing the converged toolchain and unified value stream.
Automating Governance and Enabling Continuous Compliance
With converged toolchains, VSM platforms give managers the ability to embed governance into the existing SDLC. Essentially, governance checklists adapt to the SDLC and become automated using existing tools. For example, VSM will guarantee that testing and stakeholder reviews are completed and passed before continuing through the SDLC. With this process, software delivery is elevated into a state of continuous compliance as those involved will automatically adhere to the governance requirements defined in the VSM platform.
Redefining What’s Possible in Release Planning and Orchestration
More often than not, release management is slowed down with spreadsheets that need to be manually updated to capture the state of a release. Spending the majority of the day tracking down data points does not help create value for customers. Instead, with VSM platforms, release managers can access the state of work within and across value streams in real-time. This allows release managers to focus their efforts on improving the value stream with release planning and scoping, assessing release risk, and improving efficiency of the SDLC through automation and orchestration.
Streamlining Test Environment Management
Again, the goal of VSM is to improve the delivery of value to customers. This means eliminating waste throughout the SDLC, including test environment management. Test environment managers frequently receive booking requests for specifically configured environments. VSM aids test environment managers by centralizing booking requests and automatic test environment scheduling. This allows test environment managers to focus on generating value in the SDLC by creating and configuring test environments, as opposed to sorting through hundreds or thousands of requests.
Value Stream Management Enables Continuous Improvement
Essentially, VSM empowers teams to continuously improve their software delivery. This allows them to deliver more value to their customers and incrementally improve product quality and processes. With executive level insights and real-time visibility, VSM platforms deliver the detailed knowledge needed to fuel data-driven decision making. It is with VSM that large organizations are able to realize the Agile + DevOps performance they’ve been looking for.
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