Five Truths About Value Stream Management Every Organization on a Digital Transformation Must Know

In ConnectALL, Value Stream Management by Soumya Menon

Value Stream Management is not that complicated if you understand what it is actually solving for your software development and delivery. Like we always say, “it is human”. 

ConnectALL President and COO Lance Knight has a heart-to-heart conversation with Ron Pereira, Co-founder and Partner at Gemba Academy about value stream management in software development and delivery. Lance addresses some basic and detailed points about the implementation of the lean practice of value stream management in software development. He also addresses the common myths and misconceptions, and what flow means in manufacturing and software development.

Here are five, out of many, “truth-be-told” statements from an excerpt of the conversation:

VSM Truth #1

“It’s kind of fascinating when you think about a software delivery value stream. They’re not like value streams in manufacturing. Value stream management in software development, delivery, whoever’s listening to this is not this complicated. I don’t need to create a community. It’s not part of my agile processes. Right. It is in your value stream. It’s always there and you’re managing it now, even if you don’t call it that. So map it, understand your flow and remove waste. It’s that simple. You don’t have to go so far into solving the whole thing. Map it, find an area and solve the problem and remove that waste, and you’ll start to get momentum around it. You don’t need to add it to your scrums. You don’t really talk too much about it in your daily stand ups a little bit, unless that’s what the stand up is about. Just get to it, guess what I’m trying to say, right? Yeah. Map it, look at it, understand it, find waste and remove it and measure. Right. Because like I said earlier, you can’t manage something until you’ve measured it.”

So map it, understand your flow and remove waste. It’s that simple. You don’t have to go so far into solving the whole thing. Map it, find an area and solve the problem and remove that waste, and you’ll start to get momentum around it.

— Lance Knight, President and COO, ConnectALL

VSM Truth #2

“Value stream management — it’s a human thing to do. There’s no software that does it. We have to go out to the shop floor. We have to go look. We have to go see where things are flowing. We have to look at the flow of things and try to figure out how I can remove waste, how I can automate, how I can do all of those other Japanese words in the house of Lean that I can’t stay in half the time. That’s a human thing to do. Software is not going to do that for you. Our software is a value stream management platform to help humans as they’re doing these exercises and understanding how they can flow to see, measure and automate their software delivery value stream. Unlike the shop floor, also in software development, I can’t go to Gemba. Did I say that right? I think I said that right. Yeah. I can’t go to the shop floor. I can’t do that because it’s all in somebody’s computer servers or somewhere in the cloud. So I have to be able to map it. You have to be able to map it. You have to map it without seeing it. You have to ask questions and drive connections and talk about the tools they’re using.”

VSM Truth #3

“So as you’re looking at moving parts that you’ve put together in the delivery process or so on, we can trigger systems to do things so that people don’t have to do that and that’s removing, I call, that moving non-value added activities. It’s not valuable for somebody to copy tickets around.”

VSM Truth #4

“And then also a lot of lack of understanding is understanding Little’s Law a little bit from the people who are trying to transform. If I give them less, they’ll get more done. You’ve heard that, right? If I remove WIP, I’ll get more done. I’ve seen that a lot, too. So those are the things I’ve seen. But then when they start to realize that if I put things in smaller batch sizes, I remove WIP, I do this. I have higher quality, less change velocity and all of that, that’s something that transforms the soft developments of the delivery very well. But it’s just the thought of having to adopt these things and really understanding from an executive perspective that moving this waste is important. Yes. Each company is different, right. When I’ve done these, I just love that if I do less, if I remove what they need to do, I’ll get more done. Yeah, you will because they’ll get it to you.”

VSM Truth #5

“When you start to transform an organization around lean, you’re creating different units of things to do that also makes them more efficient and effective rather than having teams that can be interrupted in their work by other things. I’m relaying to the (sic) fact that you can have a backlog of things, and if you’re kind of half done with something, you start something new in broken up teams that can create all these different issues. When they’re not focused on done (sic), where it’s done that I’m getting to anyway. I know I jumbled around on that a little bit because it’s those main concepts that are always challenging Little’s Law, organizing around products and teams rather than being project based for it.”

Listen to the entire podcast, Episode 418, on

Share the podcast with your team or colleagues, and if you have any questions or thoughts, write to us at sa***@co********.com. As Lance says, “we’d be happy to talk about how we can empower humans to be better at Value Stream Management.”

Want to get a value stream assessment? Contact our value stream architects for a 2-hour complimentary workshop.