Six Things People Hate About Value Stream Management (And Why They Should Be Falling in Love)

In ConnectALL, Value Stream Management by Soumya Menon

“But I hate all those things involved in doing that…thing… What do you call it? Oh yeah, value stream management.” 

Now, that’s a friend’s reaction when I told him that he should implement value stream management in his small business of an app that helps children rent bicycles instead of buying them as they grow older. What a brilliant idea! It’s been two years since the app was launched — the team grew from two to 50, costs grew too, and the business had a nominal number of customers. But the app had lots of bugs, delayed updates/releases, performance of the app was based on skewed metrics, and most importantly there seemed to be no buy-in from the entire team about scaling their business and making it agile. There was no forecast into performance or delivery of value. Oh, and one more thing — this was a remote team of professionals working from different parts of the world.

You may have an idea by now why I shared this anecdote with you. When I suggested they implement value stream management, it wasn’t just confusion about what that term means, it was more than that — fear of change. The truth is organizations can’t really stop at being a software company, they need to be predictable and continuously deliver value.

[Do You Also Feel This Way? Is Value Stream Boring? Why The Answer Matters To You]

Here are six things people hate about value stream management and yet these are the six important reasons for you to implement it. 

1. Getting every Tom, Dick, and Harry on board. Phew, that can take forever!

Do you remember the famous episode from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. called “The One with the Embryos,” when Joey and Chandler win Rachel and Monica’s apartment? The two sets of roommates go head to head in a who knows the others better quiz competition. Eventually the men have to get back to their own homes; however, they strike a deal to see Monica and Rachel kiss. What a win! Think of it this way — it may not necessarily require you to get everybody on board completely. You just have to help them see the bigger picture — strike a balance, start a healthy competition or simply play a quiz. After all, value stream management is human. You may have a VSM solution or platform, but ultimately it takes these humans on your team to use it to reap the benefits.

2. Do we have to talk to everybody and trust them too? Now, that seems like a huge risk, and silos are fun.

Don’t worry, this will not affect your boundaries in any way! You don’t have to necessarily talk to everybody. Yet, the biggest benefit of value stream management when you have connected the people, processes, and technology, is an end of an era of disparate work. We have definitely learned a thing or two about isolation from Covid-19, haven’t we? It’s simply about knowing how your work is affecting the overall business. Again, seeing the bigger picture. Being a frog under a coconut shell seems great but look at everything you would miss without seeing the rest of the world! In fact, VSM makes collaboration easier and lets your teams look at the product rather than just the process or a project.

[Seeking visibility? Find out the Five Reasons You Must Start Visualizing Your Value Stream Now]

3. There are so many definitions for VSM, some say flow, some say value. Which one am I supposed to follow?

It’s like how “everyone thinks they are a marketer or understanding marketing”. Well, marketing is everywhere and it sure is fun, but is everyone doing it right or understand what it means to them? Apply the same logic to value stream management. There may be a lot of confusing and misleading information out there, but, ultimately it is important to be strategic and then get to tactics. And all of this is human!

[You May Also Want to Read: What People Don’t Get About Value Stream Management]

4. Do I have to shift everything left? But things are working fine. Why change them?

Imagine if you had to watch your favorite Tarantino, Hitchcock, Kurosawa or Woody Allen movies in reverse? What if all the scenes that were left to right were shown to you from a left-handed perspective? Wouldn’t it change the composition, the scenography and even the storyline? Similarly, in software development, looking at everything from a left-handed perspective would simply mean that you are looking at implementing every process like governance, compliance, testing, security checks and automation early in the process. It gives you a fresh view of the value stream’s health, which makes it easier to take critical business decisions.

[Want to understand shifting left? Watch this video on how you can Accelerate Shifting Left with Value Stream Optimization to improve software delivery]

5. Getting rid of waste? But I need those steps. 

Waste may be an unavoidable part of everyday life and truth be told, waste represents everything that the brain uses to protect itself. Think about it — why do you follow someone’s recipe to a tee without actually checking if there is an easier way of doing it or maybe there are ingredients that may make your dish tastier? It’s the same with software development. Unlike manufacturing, in software development the likelihood of finding waste is almost unpredictable because it is constantly changing. So you have to make that effort to make waste visible by making everything crystal clear — mapping your value stream and optimizing it. 

[See it for real. Find out how ConnectALL Assists a Healthcare Organization to Accelerate Their Agile Transformation]

6. Track metrics that matter? But, I met my SLAs and my code looks great. Who cares how I got there?

There are metrics everywhere and to be honest, so many companies have got it all wrong. One of the biggest mistakes in software development is measuring developer performance and correlating that with productivity – qualitative and quantitative metrics. Some of these metrics are either misused or flawed. Measure what matters (Agile, DevOps, Product related metrics) and measure consistently to improve. When you start managing your value streams end-to-end, getting rid of silos, improving collaboration, your teams — from development to support — will have access to unlimited data that is flowing seamlessly across the value stream. This unlocks the ability to measure the current state and also look at future trends. Value stream management makes this possible — tracking real-time metrics that indicate the overall health of your value stream over time.

[Everybody is an expert in metrics. But nobody gets it right. Find out what are those key metrics that will help you become predictable. Download ConnectALL’s Insights Analytics Data Sheet to know more about the ultimate predictability metrics and why you need them]

Want to know how to fall in love with value stream management and make it meaningful for your organization and your customers? Contact our VSM experts for a demo or even a value stream assessment.