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Implementing value stream management in software development: why do it and how to measure its success

May 27th, 2022
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Agile Data-Driven
Business Value
Data Driven Companies
Data-Driven Decisions
Project Costs
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Nowadays, organizations everywhere, no matter their industries, rely on their software to deliver constantly improved features and updates that enable them to become top performers. CIOs know this and understand the huge pressure their face as they need to attain high business value in shorter timeframes while optimizing costs and talent. Many software delivery strategies fail in the quest for customer satisfaction and maximum efficiency, as companies realize that they don’t have a roadmap for success. 

With Waydev you can implement and measure value stream management for software development in any industry. From data driven healthcare to the finance sector, we cover it all.

Organizations need value stream management. Coined by James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos in their 1990 book, The Machine that Changed the World (1990), a value stream is defined as a sequence of activities and tasks that a company’s team performs to deliver customer requests. The term, further popularized by James Woomak and Daniel Jones in Lean Thinking (1996), is associated with the Lean movement, the current that applied lean manufacturing principles to software development. 

This article focuses on value stream management definitions, its benefits, and challenges CIOs might face like finding ways to measure VSM performance in software development. 

What is Value Stream Management and How to Implement it?

If you are looking for the value stream management definition, you should know that there are several ways of explaining the concept and its benefits. One of the simplest definitions is that value stream management enables companies to improve the workflow in software delivery and gain visibility of the interconnected value streams throughout their project.

Value stream management is a lean business practice that combines people, processes, and technology to map, optimize, visualize and govern business value flows by improving software delivery pipelines. The method enables CIOs to focus on specific value streams and use the analysis and insights to improve development processes. By implementing value stream management, organizations foster environments where teams may work efficiently, focusing their efforts on what works while looking at the software development lifecycle from the stakeholder’s perspective. 

An important aspect of value stream management is end-to-end visibility into each of the organization’s value streams and how they are connected to understand dependencies, shared resources, and services. 

Successful value stream managers know that their organization needs to invest in people, processes, and tools to foster data-driven environments. A coherent, well-put-together approach enables them to optimize the time to value – the period between ideation and value delivery -ensuring that consumers benefit from fast improvements that constantly enhance user experience. 

Value stream management software enables engineering leaders to accurately and automatically quantify team progress and organizational metrics, identifying bottlenecks and offering improvement guidance. 

Calculating software project costs
With Waydev’s Project Costs Report you can accelerate innovation by optimizing costs for key initiatives and deliverables

The Benefits of Value Stream Management in Software Development

Implementing value stream management comes with a wide array of benefits that you will notice from the start. By pulling data from different disjoined tools, the practice enables you to have a clearer view of overall performance and make your DevOps pipelines more efficient. Here are some top benefits that will surely contribute to optimizing your organization’s work: 

Engineering managers can identify and break down operational silos

When implementing value stream management in software development, organizations aggregate the current and the ideal workflow data for otherwise siloed departments and identify inefficiencies that affect the software development lifecycle and deliverables. At an enterprise level, this approach enables CIOs to take measures that optimize their processes, splitting complex projects into pieces that are easier to assess, monitor, and improve. 

At a team level, developers and engineering leaders can get a full picture of their codebase, PRs, and tickets from sprint to sprint. This enables them to spot roadblocks and focus on what they do best – coding.

VSM fosters collaboration between team members and departments

Value stream management gives engineering leaders a clear view over the complex flow network of planning, designing, and communicating that happens during the software development lifecycle. This lifecycle is based on the joint efforts of professionals in different areas of expertise, from product owners to release managers, engineering teams, and risk and compliance. 

Value stream management connects goals and focuses on organization-level priorities, instead of individual or team results. This approach ensures that cross-functional teams can thrive, as it creates a culture where people collaborate to deliver the utmost value. 

The high level of visibility offered by value stream management software enables each professional to understand how their work affects others, thus increasing the chances for a good, successful collaboration.

review collaboration report Waydev

To review the effectiveness of the collaboration stream between engineers, Waydev’s Review Collaboration Report provides engineering leaders with complex data on: 

Leverages DevOps and other important metrics

Focusing on value streams in software development inevitably leads to a focus on DevOps. While having CI/CD in place is the first step towards elite performance, a well-defined value stream management will give CIOs a clear understanding of important metrics like deployment frequency, lead time to change, mean time to recovery, or change failure rate – in short, the DORA metrics. Measuring even the slightest improvements in DevOps journeys can be complicated, but Waydev enables you to filter DORA metrics by branch, tracking delivery performance across master, development, or QA giving you clarity on each value stream.

VSM contributes to setting accurate benchmarks

By  mapping value streams, and analyzing their organization’s end-to-end process of delivering value, tech leaders know how long it takes to deliver value to customers, making it easier to create benchmarks and compare projects and work. This approach ensures that organizations have the necessary information to continuously improve their performance, identify areas that lack efficiency, and manage end-user expectations. With platforms like Waydev, you can automatically gather all the data you need for benchmarking your teams’ work and performance. 

VSM helps identify waste

An important role of value stream management is to identify any activity that doesn’t add value to the customer experience or product, but which consumes resources. The 7 categories of waste, as described by lean production expert Taiichi Ohno, include: 

Producing too much, too rapidly is a source of waste. 

When professionals don’t have the resources to perform their tasks or have to wait for other process steps to end, this also generates waste. 

Conveyance focuses on the way flows are designed and overall proximity. Especially in physical manufacturing, it is crucial for efficiency to have complementary steps positioned next to one another. In today’s DevOps world, conveyance refers to sharing information with people that have no use for it. 

It is important to process things efficiently and offer just the right amount of input. Anything over is considered over-processing. 

Keeping too much stock blocks resources and generates inventory costs. 

Looking for information and resources, instead of having them well centralized, in an accessible place is another source of waste. 

Correction refers to the time it takes to re-do work or fix mistakes. 

Measuring value stream management

To measure their organizations’ results, value stream managers assess the entire software delivery process, from idea to production, to identify potential silos, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies. Once these are evaluated, the intelligence obtained may be used to optimize processes and contribute to the organization’s overall digital transformation. 

Waydev does just that by enabling tech leads to improve software delivery processes, providing full, accurate reports that are automatically generated, such as:

DevOps Metrics

DevOps metrics are precious for measuring the throughput and stability of value streams, showcasing their evolution and health. Since DORA metrics are closely linked to VSM, monitoring them has become a go-to practice for value stream managers that want to identify inefficiency, waste, and bottlenecks and use the intelligence to streamline and enhance operations. The better the DORA metrics, the higher the value stream’s efficiency. 

Waydev enables you to track your organization’s DORA metrics, as defined in the book Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps

Flow metrics

Creating software is a complex process that includes planning, designing, and engineering and requires a high level of communication and collaboration between professionals. In this context, many tech leaders find it difficult to reduce everything to the bare minimum, to identify and assess its critical insights. 

Still, successful value stream managers know that the only way to accurately measure an organization’s capacity to deliver critical business capabilities is to focus on the delivery flow, assessing its speed. This is where Flow Metrics come in. 

These KPIs evaluate how much value businesses deliver in a certain amount of time and what enhancement opportunities exist. They are essential elements because they approach abstract terms like team structure, technical architecture, and tool implementation from very practical perspectives and set clear targets accepted by tech and business leaders. 

The Waydev Review Collaboration feature showcases how engineering teams work together, being able to translate into figures and statistics the healthy tensions in code review. This enables value stream managers to understand how many senior engineers are involved in code review, visualize the ratio between submitters and reviewers, and how many PRs have been merged. 

Conclusions

Implementing value stream management in software development enables organizations to break down silos, enhance collaboration across teams, assess DevOps, set accurate benchmarks, and improve flows between business and IT professionals. In order to get started with VSM, CIOs need to identify the desired outcomes and identify the best ways to assess their completion and general progress. 

Waydev is committed to helping engineering managers measure value stream management. Our solution enables you to automatically evaluate and monitor DORA metrics, as well as have access to a series of reports, from templates to customized versions. 

Contact us and book a demo, so you accurately measure VSM and have all the necessary information to share your team’s progress with business leaders. 

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