Value Stream Management: Navigating the Stream of Continuous Delivery”
Introduction to Value Stream Management (VSM)
Case Studies in VSM
This is all sounds great in theory, but let’s look at this in practice. A great place to start is New York health insurance provider, Healthfirst.
Like many organizations, Healthfirst was already in a transition to the progressive ways of working exemplified by agile. Their CICD and DevOps capabilities were earlier in their evolution. Like many organizations, the Covid pandemic demanded a rapid pivot on their existing business model. Part of this was rapid delivery of a new mobile app.
As Healthfirst began to adopt DevOps ways of working, they partnered with Plutora to help them improve their release quality while accelerating deployments. Having visibility into the teams’ work in their value streams meant that they were able to manage their way through a period of heightened uncertainty and make rapid operating model changes because:
They were able to automate governance and trust teams to release faster
And consequently make the CAB process lightweight to avoid delays
Plutora meant teams could see and coordinate interdependent release processes
Which meant they continued to reduce risks
Teams could accelerate DevOps toolchain implementation as they learned from each others’ patterns
They could see and throttle release scope creep further reducing risk
Healthfirst is practicing SAFe for agile at scale and Plutora supports their goals for managing working practices at an enterprise level. It provides a converged view of the complex, multiple change records that exist in their service desk solution that relate to multiple releases across all their applications. This provides complete visibility into the status of the release, something that previously several systems would have to be queried to piece together the understanding.
Ultimately, Healthfirst aiming for a state where they are able to see the flow of work through each value stream and gain insights for further optimization whilst continuing to balance speed and risk.
Big Trends in VSM
It’s the emergence of VSMPs like Plutora that are driving the resurgence of VSM. Automation makes life easier; it saves vast amounts of human effort, reduces unplanned work and rework, provides insights, makes things measurable, and builds on existing investments. The key trend in VSM is the adoption of the platforms that supercharge its goals and efforts.
Value Stream Mapping is a well-established component of VSM and rapidly increasing as both a service that’s delivered to organizations by consultants and a discipline that organizations are enabling teams to master themselves. There is great variation in approaches across the industry though, so expect to see some standardization, good practices, tools, and templates emerge to help accelerate this step and embed the habit using VSMPs.
DevOps metrics such as deployment frequency, lead time (from code commit), change fail rate, and MTTR pushed us to where we are now, but flow metrics are emerging as the next phase of our evolution. Cycle time (from an idea) and flow time and efficiency are key as are measuring the ratios of value to non-value adding to improvement work in our daily systems.
Increased understanding of value metrics themselves, what the customer is actually experiencing, and what the team can learn and action from these is the other big trend. Research analysts have suggested renaming the AIOps segment to AIPA (AI Predictive Analytics) in part to acknowledge the increasing importance of customer experience resulting in an increase in teams using observability solutions to understand value, not just resolve incidents.