Courting Visibility: Value Stream Management

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

It’s an old management saw, but one rooted in truth, especially in the arena of software development where establishing a common vision and language of success can be so important. DevOps practices have for years given organizations a model for linking and streamlining processes, enabling both continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). But as GigaOm VP of Research Jon Collins explains, businesses still struggle with understanding the actual value derived from these processes.

In his recent Strategy Considerations report, “Driving Value Through Visibility,” Jon emphasizes that delivering on innovation requires more than moving from a project to a product mindset. It hinges on the ability to measure success, across both the products you create and the processes you use to create them.

“Across organizations today, we’re seeing DevOps have to up the ante—to move beyond simply doing things faster and towards enabling software-based innovation to take place in a managed, well-governed way,” Jon explains in an interview. “Value Stream Management (VSM) is an essential tool in the DevOps governance tool chest, helping deliver both more efficient pipelines and higher-value results.”

At the core of VSM is the concept of visibility, which makes it possible for organizations to apply the right process to the right goals. In the report, Jon points out that visibility confers the insight needed for managers to set goals and prioritize activities, for process owners to identify bottlenecks and address their causes, and for all stakeholders to gain a common basis on which to collaborate. Within the context of VSM, visibility does two things:

  • Ensure efficiency (“doing things right”): This is about minimizing wasteful activity and maximizing both productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Ensure effectiveness (“doing the right thing”): This involves delivering results of maximum value to the business, making best practices repeatable, and replicating success across teams.

Figure 1: VSM Considers Both Efficiency and Effectiveness

This isn’t about process efficiency—well, it is, but that’s more a means than an end when it comes to achieving business goals. Rather, developing visibility is about ensuring that your delivery cycles work in lockstep with the needs of business leaders to yield positive outcomes and maximize your innovation process. In short, it becomes the link between IT and the business—two entities that too often stand at opposite ends of a chasm.

Learn more about Collins’ Strategy Considerations Report, “Driving Value Through Visibility.”