Value Stream Metrics: There is no shortage of metrics related to software delivery. From Agile metrics, DevOps, DORA metrics, support, services and operational metrics to lean, value stream, flow metrics, product and predictability metrics, there’s so much hype.
Organizations are not confident in selecting metrics and there’s little acknowledgement that one set of metrics might not be all that an organization needs.
But, where do you start? How do you decide what measurements would help you analyze the health of your value stream and what changes you’d have to make to manage it?
In a recent webinar hosted by DevOps.com, ConnectALL’s SVP of Product Andrew Fuqua and President & COO Lance Knight delved into a specific set of starter metrics that organizations can use to get started. There are metrics that program managers, product managers, Agile managers and DevOps teams need to kick off their metrics journey. Ultimately, the important point to note is that metrics is not in and of itself value stream management, but metrics help you look into the past, present, and future of your value stream — and therefore aiding your business goals.
Here are some interesting questions and their answers that’ll open up a whole new world of information about the reality of measurements.
What does VSM have to do with metrics and vice versa?
Andrew: If you’re new to value stream management or trying to figure out what you need to do, you might feel like you’re drowning in metrics. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. If you are a value stream manager or you aspire to be a value stream manager, or you’re a new development director or VP of development, you need to understand each of these things and select from them. What’s valuable for the objectives that your organization has? You have to know what questions to ask. You have to understand the metrics, landscape, and know how to use them.
What does “value stream metrics that actually matter” mean?
Andrew: What are the value stream metrics that actually matter, well, I have to ask, actually matter for what? Or for whom? Are you trying to build a DevOps culture? Are you trying to make scrum better or, or use safe or disciplined agile delivery? Or maybe you’re lean and you need to improve flow and lead time and eliminate delays or improve time-to-market, or, what I see a lot of larger organizations struggling with is just getting predictable. They’re always missing their delivery dates and they need to do more risk reduction and, and dependency management and figure out how to get predictable. Maybe quality and reliability, for product performance, or stability, security, there’s all kinds of purposes for which metrics can be useful. And all kinds of roles as well. Maybe you’re the team level scrum master or agile coach, or maybe you’re the enterprise lean agile coach, a development director, but a dev director has a different set of metrics that they probably need to look at. And then the director of support or the director of services, and the VP of product engineering has got a different set than the VP of product management.
So with that, I think we kind of need to think about an approach to metrics and figuring out what it is you need. The point I want to make is that you really need to start with your organization’s goals. Take a look at your OKRs, take a look at your improvement objectives, with regard to those questions I asked earlier and think about what improvement direction you need to go in. Once you understand a small number of goals you might want to ask about what questions you would ask that would lead you to know whether you’re on the right track, or to lead you to select metrics that would answer the questions and drive you towards the goal.
So nevertheless, even though I say there isn’t one single best set of value stream metrics that matter, there are metrics that I think are useful and that are either not covered by other tools, but they’re important, or some that are often misinterpreted. And also some that benefit from having data from multiple sources brought into one common data model to make the metric more useful. So there’s some common bones, essential metrics that have a variety of uses. And so these are the kind of the place where I usually start the conversation there. They’re useful in many situations, if you can understand each of these, you can apply them to different goals. You can apply them to different roles and get good use out of them.
Lance: And what’s really nice about some of the metrics we can produce is when we go through GQM (Goal, Question, Metrics), we can do metrics by team. We can look at specific views that might be relevant to making you more predictable and predictability itself is something different in every organization. So when you start getting information, you start to realize that you want different information to help your processes to become more associated with what you’re trying to achieve, your outcomes and so on. So there are dev team metrics. We also offer DevSecOps metrics. So there’s just any of those solutions out there, containing data that can turn into analytics and information you use to make better business decisions and decide whether you’re doing two things, managing your value stream, right? Or managing what’s in the value stream, in the right way as well.
How did ConnectALL come up with these metrics?
Andrew: Yeah, some of them I put in there, for education purposes, like, I think there’s some important things for people to know and to understand. So I’ve included some of those, others I’ve included just because they are very useful when you’re, when you’re able to pull data in from multiple data sources. They’re more useful in a dashboard like this when you have, when you can pull in data from multiple sources than they are in the individual tools. So I’ve included some of those, and the others are their common starting points. They have a lot of uses like you see, and some of stuff that I showed, I might have, stuff in multiple areas, looking at the program in product management and as well as the, the team, the team in the things. So, they’re common, they’re useful, or they have some educational component. Or there is some light velocity variation. I include the 80th percentile because nobody else does. But it’s useful and people need to know about it. So it’s a multitude of reasons why we included them.
Lance: The power of platforms like ours (ConnectALL) is that we can connect to all the tools. And by creating a really unique common data model, we can then get all kinds of information, allowing you to make great business decisions. And we created the starter kit so that, you know, within a couple of days, you can hook up your, you know, connect to your tools within ConnectALL, and then start seeing metrics, start to accumulate data for metrics.
So to make those businesses quickly. And then, you can expand to thinking about what other things I may have that the starter kit doesn’t, and you can grow out from there. So we want to get you the value really quick with maybe just the flow metrics of the portfolio or the DORA metrics, depending upon what you’re connecting into the platform and then go from there. And we have a particular point of view on a bunch of different metrics that are really important depending upon the clients that we talked to in their need.
Watch the whole webinar and the conversation around the hottest metrics in the software world and let us know how we can help you get started with the starter metrics. Write to us at sa***@co********.com.
Head of Content Marketing at ConnectALL, responsible for communication and content marketing strategy. For two decades, I’ve assisted businesses to integrate content marketing into their marketing plans to achieve their business goals. I specialize in creating and developing content (inbound and outbound) across various online and offline channels from websites, blogs, and social media to email marketing and marketing communication collateral.