Why value stream is important
|Richard Harris in Enterprise Thursday, June 20, 2019|
We spoke with Todd Scallen, Plutora Chief Product Officer about Value Stream Management and how to use it in your software development process.
In today’s fast-paced mobile and software development landscape, enterprises are under more pressure than ever to drive value fast to remain competitive. And the primary means to drive that value is increasingly being done through the development of quality software.
Leading IT organizations are no longer concentrating simply on how fast they can deliver software, but on how much business value they can deliver at speed, and how every customer product, service or application has its own value stream.
Todd Scallan was recently announced as Plutora's chief product officer. Scallan joins Plutora after previously working at Flipboard, Axcient, Interwoven and Segue Software. He brings experience in all aspects of SaaS operations, beyond just product delivery. With an overall understanding of what it takes to build a SaaS product and grow a business, Scallan offers our audience insight into the direction the value stream management category is headed.
ADM: Why is value stream management important?
Scallan: Today every enterprise is a software company, whether it’s through offering online banking, order fulfillment, a travel app, or what have you. Enterprises are feeling pressure from customers and competitors alike, which comes with an uptick in the volume and velocity of product requests.
As a consequence, issues arise that undermine time to value. This brings with it many headaches for an organization as a whole, but especially the product teams and their leaders who are under pressure to deliver faster and more frequently. Embracing VSM will alleviate some of the pressure, ensure mistakes are minimized and enable product teams to deliver value more rapidly.
ADM: How will value stream mapping help organizations?
Scallan: Business is growing more competitive every day. In order to keep up with customer demand and expectations, development teams are having to work faster and be more efficient than ever before. However, it’s not just the development teams that are impacted by these increased demands. A value stream mapping helps to identify and better coordinate other impacted operational teams and process segments that are integral to the overall development process.
VSM not only enables an organization to identify process deficiencies that slow down software delivery but to then provide ongoing insights into the progress of software delivery pipelines. The resulting improved processes and visibility greatly reduce the need to chase down status from disparate teams and react to fires caused by misalignment of projects, making it easier to accurately plan schedules and product delivery.
ADM: Who benefits from value stream mapping?
Scallan: The value stream mapping exercise can be used to meet a variety of objectives. For example, it can have a very immediate benefit when developed and applied at the practitioner or specialist level. It can also have a strategic impact when developed and applied by leadership.
While there are a number of benefits that are realized for the various team members, stakeholders, executives, and even shareholders, the real benefit to mapping value is realized by the customers. The customers experience a better-quality product that is delivered faster and meets their needs and expectations.
ADM: What will happen to organizations that don’t adopt value stream management?
Scallan: To remain competitive, organizations are having to look more closely at their software delivery process and how value flows through it. To be able to provide quality customer experiences, it is crucial to find a comprehensive way to measure and improve all end-to-end activities so that value is delivered to customers faster and with higher quality. If organizations fail to do this, they will lose customers and fall behind to their competition.
ADM: What steps need to be taken by organizations to map their software development value stream?
Scallan: Mapping the software development value stream is a straightforward series of steps:
- Define your focus – This is the most important step of the entire VSM exercise. Start with clearly defining the objective. With a clear objective in mind, identify the appropriate focus, scope, and process to be mapped.
- VSM team selection – Make sure that the appropriate team is assembled to meet the objectives of the value stream mapping activity. The team needs to be those individuals that are directly able to make the changes that come from the VSM exercise.
- Define the basic value stream – Start with a rudimentary value stream map as a starting point. This helps to jump-start the activity when you first meet as a team. The key thing here is to outline only the process basics.
- Develop your current state value stream map – Starting with your basic VSM, add the remaining processes and their corresponding data, including current cycle times, lead times, up times, and so on. This should reflect all stages within the start and end points of the VSM exercise, including their respective values as they currently are, not as they are said to be or supposed to be.
- Develop your target state value stream map – Once the current state VSM has been completed, develop a Target State VSM. The target state represents a clear target of where you want to end up.
- Develop your future state value stream map – Using your current state VSM, identify the areas that are hot points, bottlenecks, backlogs, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Then implement the improvements that will help achieve the target.
ADM: What type of growth do you envision from the emerging category of value stream management?
Scallan: To remain relevant, enterprises are putting increased emphasis on software delivery as an essential way to engage customers and stay competitive. This means an increased focus on digital transformation initiatives within IT organizations. Investment in these initiatives translates into growth in demand for products and services that accelerate and improve the quality of software delivery, which is what value stream management is all about.
ADM: What else do you envision for the future of value stream management?
Scallan: Value stream management offers a way to understand software process deficiencies and to make corresponding improvements. As increasing numbers of IT organizations embrace VSM, they will become more capable of modernizing, which includes successful adoption of DevOps practices and elastic computing in both public and private clouds.