Top Seven Things I Learned from the Biggest Value Stream Management Discussion in 2020

In Value Stream by Soumya Menon

For the past two years, I have witnessed hundreds of software companies turning to Value Stream Management as business leaders, product teams, and others realize their larger goal is to deliver value and enhance customer experiences.

Though the term comes from the manufacturing world where everything is templated and you know what the input and the output exactly is, in the software world things are different. Software is all about adapting to change as quickly as possible and ultimately delivering what the customer wants, which is not always the same. Using techniques like value stream integration and management to optimize your value streams allows to reduce wait time, reduce waste, and ultimately drives time-to-market and time-to-value. 

“What Problems Are We Looking to Solve with Value Stream Management?” was one of the biggest discussions in 2020, hosted by SD Times. On Jan 23, industry experts Lance Knight, (COO, ConnectALL), Eric Robertson (VP Product Marketing & Management, CollabNet VersionOne) and Chris Nowak, (Director, DevOps Advisory & Adoption, HCL Urban Code), came together to address the problems companies are facing today, why Value Stream Management is important now than ever, and how do you really get started? 

Here are seven takeaways from the discussion that will help you get ahead quicker:

Value Stream Management is human

Topping the list of things I picked up from the discussion is that Value Stream Management is human. You may have the tools to help you with reducing waste and increasing flow, but ultimately it takes a human to identify the business outcomes, find waste, monitor how information flows and make suggestions for process improvement. No matter what your role is in your organization, you have to take up the role of being a value stream manager. Start with your own group or team but as long as it ties back to the business goals and aligns with efforts of other teams or groups. The key to managing value streams is having empathy across groups and having conversations and this is human!

Value Stream Management is not only about software delivery

Value Stream Management is a lot more than just software delivery. Value is beyond a piece of delivered code. And this becomes critical and significant in larger organizations. When one team is performing well and the others are not, value stream management does not work. Every team needs to try and lean out their processes, which ultimately ties back to business goals. 

Value Stream Mapping is a continuous process

Today, when organizations are turning to value stream management and value stream, it is about finding the right value stream map. The hard truth is value stream mapping is not a one-time task and neither is it for a single value stream. There are multiple value streams for example development, operations, change management, and others that don’t involve code and all this ties back to one value stream at the top — business goals. How do you get started? You need to get everything onto a big whiteboard — work breaks down into flows and takes different paths and it’s never linear and this needs to be mapped. You may not find value in everything you are doing and this is why it is important to tie everything back to your business goals. Start small — apply lean principles to improve something within your team, depending on where you are in the organizational chart and map it to the larger objectives. You might optimize your own area, but what about CI/CD, automating tests, delivery, release, etc.

Value Stream Management enables you to be relevant

Optimizing your value streams, even if you are using tools like ConnectALL to integrate your tools, enables you to become relevant in this competitive market. What you are doing should be relevant to the end users. In the end it is about business agility to adapt to change, learn, and pivot, and deliver speed. Adopt, change, and solve the problem of time-to-market and time-to-value. 

Enforce governance, security, and policy with Value Stream Management

Governance, security, and policy ultimately ties to the flow of information. If you don’t meet these regulations, you can’t go to the next stage or step. Value stream integration tools like ConnectALL enables you to optimize your value streams and break down the flow of information across tools. However, it still would take a human to find these and set it up — manage value streams and make sure it is regulating right so that everything moves forward. 

Read What Does Value Stream Management Really Mean to Your Organization? to find out how value stream management helps you with governance, security, and policy.

Value Stream Management helps to build a culture of continuous everything

Whether you are practicing DevOps or Agile, every plays a part in building a culture of continuous everything. Value Stream Management enables you to do that because it helps you look at the metrics that matter the most to eliminate the waste. Unlike in manufacturing where everything is repeatable, in software it is all about change and quick adoption. So the metrics matter the most — how do you calculate cycle time across the end-to-end value stream effectively? How do you reduce wait time? When you improve flow, optimize your value streams, these lead to continuous delivery, continuous integration, continuous improvement, and therefore continuous customer satisfaction. 

Value stream management is the next evolution to DevOps

Just like how DevOps was born to help Agile meet the challenges that it couldn’t resolve, Value Stream Management is the evolution to DevOps. What DevOps promised to solve is culture, automation, lean process, metrics, and measures. But what was left out were lean process and culture and this is where value stream management helps you build that culture, the co-empathy between groups to swim together in the same direction. Tools like ConnectALL will help you affect the change and remove the waste. However, identifying and solving that problem has to be done by you. You need to learn how to remove the waste. 

If you are thinking of getting started with lean, here’s a book we recommend you read: Lean Quick Start Simplified Manufacturing Enterprise.

Contact us, if you want to discuss how to get started with value stream management.