“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a value stream, you don’t know what you’re doing” – Karen Martin and Mike Osterling, Value Stream Mapping
You’ve heard us talk a lot recently about value streams in software delivery. How leading IT organizations are no longer concentrating on how fast they deliver software, but how much business value they can deliver at speed. And how every customer product, service or application has its own value stream.
This significant shift in mindset means CIOs are looking more closely at how value flows across the software delivery process. They’re looking for a holistic way to connect and measure all end-to-end activities undertaken for a specific product or service in order to provide great customer experiences.
CIOs under siege
With CIOs under pressure from the business to create greater value for customers through innovation – while eliminating delays, improving quality, and reducing cost, labor and employee frustration – CIOs are focusing on how they can obtain end-to-end visibility into how this value is created so they can measure and optimize this flow. No more small order.
So it’s understandable that CIOs are feeling the heat, as well as feeling frustrated too. They’ve followed the software delivery playbook to a T; they’ve been to the tech conferences, invested millions in Agile and DevOps, brought in the specialist tooling and people – why are they still not seeing the results they were promised?
The limitation of Agile and DevOps
One of the main reasons that IT transformations are failing is that Agile and DevOps initiatives struggle to scale. In terms of optimizing the “build and deploy” stage, Agile and DevOps have been a success, enabling priority features to be built and released into production faster than ever. In that sense, enterprises and agencies are reaping dramatic benefits; they’ve gone from taking weeks or months to release a new version to deploying changes multiple times per day.
However, because the methodologies only focus on certain areas of the value stream, the productivity benefits are confined to those stages, as seen in the diagram below:
What about everything that happens before and after a product has been built and deployed? Any benefits of Agile and DevOps hit a wall if there is no automated flow of work across the end-to-end process. For instance, what if there is a bottleneck that sits in another stage outside Agile and DevOps’ remit?
What if a customer product request is stuck in the ‘ideate’ stage, sitting dormant in an email sent to product from sales? It doesn’t matter how fast developers can code or how fast operations can deploy a product if there’s no formalized method for managing the flow of product requests across the value stream.
And when the volume and velocity of products requests inevitably begin to ramp up, so too do the issues and waste that undermine time to value.
When trying to trace the flow of work across the end-to-end process, CIOs are quickly identifying even more issues – chiefly, they can’t actually see how work (business value) flows across key stages in their value stream because of the disconnect between the tools and teams that plan, build and deliver software. They have no end-to-end visibility, traceability or governance over the process.
The perils of a disconnected value stream
With a disconnected value stream, how do you confirm how many features you delivered last year? Or how much of your resource capacity is going towards new business value vs. technical debt and quality issues? These are the kind of questions that a CEO will have, and if they don’t get the answers they need, a CIO’s days may very well be numbered.
Crucially, none of this vital information is available in one tool, rather it is stored in pieces across the value stream in multiple systems. These pieces need to be put together to create a single view and one source of truth of a product’s development. This traceability requirement is particularly important for heavily regulated industries such as government, finance and healthcare, but also pertinent to commercial businesses managing a high quality product portfolio.
Furthermore, without this end-to-end view, it’s almost impossible to measure the all-important flow time – the key measure of delivery speed. Flow time represents the time it takes to deliver a new feature or product from the first customer request through to completion (i.e., delivering value to the end user).
Abandoning a “hope and see” mentality, forward-thinking CIOs are taking direct action to connect the process and make it visible through Value Stream Management.
Value Stream Management: The next major milestone in software delivery
A Value Stream Management solution connects the network of best-of-breed tools and teams for planning, building and delivering software at an enterprise-level.
By doing this, CIOs can automate the flow of product-critical information (e.g. artifacts such as Features, Epics, Stories, Defects) and other associated data (comments, attachments etc.) across the value stream. This capability provides all stakeholders with a comprehensive and accurate view of the process from start to finish.
End-to-end automation addresses two core challenges in managing value streams:
- Software delivery work is invisible knowledge work. There are no physical materials to observe as they move through the value stream. It’s hard to comprehend something you cannot see, and even harder to manage it.
- Unless fully automated, transitions between work centers are informal and untraceable. Handoffs take place over email, phone, chat, in spreadsheets or face-to-face meetings. The value stream therefore exists, but only implicitly. It is not tangible – and therefore incomprehensible.
Tasktop – the only Value Stream Management solution on the market
Tasktop is helping leading organizations and agencies – including nearly half of the Fortune 100 – across all major industries to connect, visualize and measure their software delivery at scale to deliver real tangible business value.
Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry – connecting an entire value stream can at first seem like an overwhelming task. But most leading organizations are connecting their value streams in an incremental way.
Most organizations start by implementing one or two ‘integration patterns’ that allow them to connect part of their value stream. Over time they add more and more, with the ultimate goal of a fully integrated value stream.
You can learn more about integration patterns in our blog Common integration patterns in enterprise software delivery.
Speak to us today about a free one-hour consultation with one of value stream experts to begin visualizing the value streams that exist your business.
Want to know more?
- What is Value Stream Management and why do I need it?
- We’re already doing Agile and DevOps. Do we need value streams too?
- What does it actually take to be able to manage your value stream?
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