Can You See Your End-to-End Value Stream?

Can You See Your End-to-End Value Stream?

In Value Stream, Value Stream Management by Soumya Menon

Multiple tools with no integration; duplicate data entry requiring manual work; lack of communication between dev and test teams; lack of visibility and traceability; increased time-to-market and decreased time-to-value. Are you struggling with any of these? 

The solution to this is value stream optimization, which involves seeing, automating, and measuring your software delivery value stream. Value stream optimization is the process of analyzing your software delivery value stream and looking for areas to improve with the goal of achieving certain outcomes.

See the value stream

And to be able to do all that, you need visibility. You need to see the value stream, identify it and then see the flow of work across your end-to-end software delivery value stream and also align it from an enterprise perspective. You need control over the value stream. Most companies that have adopted value stream management (VSM) to help make work visible haven’t really got it right. Why? To see across the value stream would mean having control over the value stream with an end-to-end view into enterprise workflows, and not just focusing on orchestrating or automating lower-level activities.

The challenge in managing these end-to-end value streams is that they inevitably span several systems, some of which are even on the cloud. Without visibility or dynamic flexibility, organizations can’t address issues in a timely fashion. They need a view of the value-generating processes spanning every platform, IT stack, cloud service and software package. 

Want to see how this works in reality? Watch this 30-minute demo.

See the work in the value stream

Take for example the traditional value stream map for manufacturing. We have the information and material flow. Information is flowing across the organization in the form of weekly schedules, daily schedules, and market forecasts. On the manufacturing floor, the material is flowing sequentially with very little room for creative thought, feedback loops, or variations to the controlled process. 

This type of value stream works very well in a manufacturing-centric environment. The problem is that software development is creative, chaotic, and fraught with feedback loops. A new way of thinking, a new type of governance model, is required to achieve the gains in efficiency we all seek. Value stream management in software delivery today means we’re not just focused on the flow of materials. If you want to improve flow in your organization you need to focus on the information flow as well — all this drives the need for better planning. You need to map the information flow in parallel to the material flow. You have to learn to see the feedback loops as well.

See the flow across the value stream with workflow orchestration

A value stream management platform (VSMP) that has built-in workflow orchestration capabilities takes care of executing tasks and orchestrating them correctly. It creates an optimized workflow enabling easy integration of all the tools in your value stream allowing for a fully automated software delivery pipeline. You can create a visualization of the relationships between the artifacts and software delivery, then automate the interactions between these tools. This allows for real-time visibility of flow and alerts when things move into production. 

Here are some benefits of workflow automation:

  • End-to-end visibility of every work item, how they evolve, and their relationships with other work items in and across product value streams
  • Dynamic visualization of work items evolving through the value streams, how they evolved, and the speed and quality of their evolution to the end-customers
  • Real-time visualization of the current value stream’s evolution over time
  • Centralized control of builds, CI/CD tests, and releases/deployments 
  • Improvements in cross-functional collaboration between dev, QA, and ops teams
  • Insights of how process changes impact release outcomes

Orchestration is not only about workflows in software delivery but also about monitoring your application once you’ve deployed it.

A VSMP helps optimize value streams therefore aiding organizations orchestrate and coordinate automatic triggers like builds, automated tests, and deployments, and help with centralized control of builds, CI/CD tests, and releases/deployments. It should also help improve cross-functional collaboration between development, quality, and operations teams, and provide metric dashboards that provide insights of how process changes impact release outcomes. Orchestration helps you streamline the deployment and management of your services or application releases.

There are three things that can ensure an optimal workflow-orchestrated value stream.

  1. Address both ends of the spectrum with capabilities to deal with technical intricacies of task-level workflows. For example, integrating with the APIs of tools for scanning a cloud data center to identify zombie cloud instances, and promoting new applications across software development lifecycles. 
  2. From a technical level, you will be able to select a branch in the value stream (regardless of the different systems and IT stacks) and have complete visibility with insights that can help make decisions. 
  3. At a functional level, you will get an executive view of the workflows. As most workflows are nonlinear, dynamic, and reflecting the business rules of the organization, it requires some conditionality. With automated workflows that are done from an enterprise level, VSM orchestrates all the processes using appropriate visual user experience and, more importantly, manages and monitors them in high volumes day-to-day. 

These three qualifications illustrate the symmetry of automation and orchestration. Here are some visible changes that you may see with a VSM solution that has enterprise-level workflow orchestration capabilities. 

  • Time-to-market – drive faster releases; savings in cost: the number of hours required to prepare defect reports were reduced
  • Quality – Better visibility into bottlenecks and errors have resulted in better quality
  • Productivity – Improved performance
  • Adaptability – IT efforts being mapped with business initiatives has given them time, money, and resources to look into new business opportunities
  • Predictability – Improved build velocity, better business decision making with lean metrics and insights
  • Business value – exceeding customer expectations; created more value for customers and employees. Quality as well as effectiveness goes up, driving down time-to-market, and increasing NPS.
  • Customer satisfaction – faster feedback loop and rapid pivoting, enabling teams to deliver greater business value
  • Employee satisfaction – encourages team members to contribute to the business value and increases their work satisfaction, as well as collaboration between business and IT

Not sure how to choose the right VSM solution?
Download a quick guide on ‘6 Critical Features of a VSM Solution.’

If you liked reading this and want to find out more about how we can help you with VSM and workflow orchestration, and making everything visible, contact us.