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Value Stream Management: Navigating the Stream of Continuous Delivery

Introduction to Value Stream Management (VSM)


The world is digitally transforming and expecting cloud and DevOps to enable the desired outcomes for better software delivered faster and safer. But the journeys are arduous and meet many obstacles in the shape of organizational design, technical and cultural debt, problematic leadership, conflicting goals, and lack of key data, metrics, and insights.

Welcome to Value Stream Management (VSM), the way of working that accelerates digital and DevOps journeys through a combination of mapping, visualization, measurement, and governance. VSM uses real-time data for value stream teams to continually inspect, adapt and optimize performance according to customer feedback on the value they experience.

In this guide, you’ll learn the key essentials to VSM, including the latest trends and expert tips. You’ll discover how to implement VSM and access free templates and checklists among the resources.

What is a Value Stream?

A value stream is anything that delivers a product or a service, or anything that has a customer. A value stream isn’t a process, but a collection of processes, steps, or actions that start with ideation and are complete when the value of that idea is realized by the customer. The customer can be either external or internal.Steps can be value added or non-value added. For something to add value, three things must happen:The step must change the form or function of the product or serviceThe customer must be willing to pay for the changeThe step must be performed correctly the first timeSome value streams will be ‘core’ and some will be ‘supporting’ – they enable the core value streams.

What is a Digital Value Stream?

Digital value streams are concerned with software technology or related infrastructure (cloud or otherwise). Examples of digital value streams include: websites, mobile apps, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Commercial Off The Shelf packages (COTS), APIs, data lakes, DevOps toolchains or Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CICD) pipelines and cloud platforms.Digital value streams are different from manufacturing value streams because in software the product is long-lived, we only make it once, and what’s passing through the value stream is enhancements. In manufacturing, we design the product once (or infrequently) and then make it many times according to the same specification. The two main activities in a value stream are Design and Development (D&D) and Production and Delivery (P&D). In manufacturing, 10% of time is spent on D&D, and 90% on P&D. The opposite is true when we have a digital focus.Additionally, the use of automation in a DevOps toolchain further reduces the time spent in P&D.

Digital Value Stream
Digital value streams are typically core value streams, often supported by supporting value streams such as legal, finance, and procurement. A DevOps toolchain or technology platform value streams, while digital, are typically supporting.

What is Value Stream Management?

Value Stream Management is a way of working that encompasses a number of practices and techniques to organize, map, measure, manage, improve, govern, and accelerate the flow of measurable valuable outcomes to the customer. It makes work visible and in doing so surfaces insights into where delays, waste, and non-value adding work can be removed in order to improve customer experience.It starts with identifying the value streams themselves, the people involved, and the steps in each value stream. It recognizes that most organizations will have many value streams and that often these value streams are interconnected and have dependencies on one another.

What is a Value Stream Management Platform (VSMP)?

Plutora is a Value Stream Management Platform (VSMP) that enables organizations to simplify building and managing CICD pipelines and DevOps toolchains. It minimizes the overhead involved in orchestration, integration, and governance, thus maximizing value by providing visibility, traceability, and observability into the flow of work. VSMPs:Drive business agilityReduce the overhead of managing complex toolchainsMaximize flow in digital value streamsSupport rapid innovationVSMPs offer several capabilities to achieve these goals:A common data model with data normalizationTools integrationsValue stream visualizationReal-time metrics into flow and value realizationDeep analytics and actionable insightsGovernance and continuous complianceSimulation and predictionWorkflow orchestrationPersonalization, collaboration, and coordination.

A Brief History of VSM

VSM’s roots are in lean and value stream mapping. It’s possible to trace manufacturing production lines back to 1450 in Venice’s arsenal but it’s more common to look to Ford and Toyota in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Toyota’s Production System (TPS) included information and materials diagramming intended to visualize and optimize work.Value Stream Management appeared as a concept in 2000, with work from Peter Hines that recognized there were limitations using mapping alone. In 2018, industry analyst, Forrester, published their first VSM wave recognizing that although VSM itself was not new, the DevOps toolchains and software pipelines that had evolved since 2009 had created a new generation of truly data-driven VSM.
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Optimize operations, heighten transparency, speed up success.

Optimize operations, heighten transparency, speed up success.

Optimize operations, heighten transparency, speed up success.