What is Value Stream Management?

Value Stream Management (VSM) is derived from lean manufacturing principles, in which a software delivery process is monitored in terms of its efficiency at each step.


What it is: Value Stream Management (VSM) focuses on managing software delivery processes such as DevOps as value streams, assessing and improving both efficiency (saving money) and effectiveness (adding benefit) at each step.

What it does: VSM enables software development decision makers to ask why things are as they are and whether they can be improved; it accesses the overall process in terms of hand-offs, repetition, and other criteria, enabling process improvement as a whole. Additionally it assesses the ability of software workflows to deliver innovation into deployment, and make appropriate improvement decisions.

Why it matters: VSM enables organizations to simplify workflows, by identifying and removing bottlenecks in the development, testing, and deployment process. It provides measures that link to return on investment, customer satisfaction, and other business-facing criteria; and it delivers real-time insights to decision makers to guide the day-to-day prioritization of development goals.

What to do about it: Look to VSM as a route to remove risk and increase control of technology-based innovation, putting business drivers and value first. Remember an organization’s value stream should create new efficiencies or positive, tangible business ROI. Set priorities based on which parts of the business will feel the most positive impact. Connect business drivers with innovation goals.

Benefits of VSM

  • A more structured and efficient development process.
  • A shared language and structure for decision making.
  • Higher levels of process automation.
  • A route to higher efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Better communication and collaboration between teams.
  • Higher levels of decision-making governance.
  • Increased potential for innovation.
  • Better alignment with operational best practices.
  • Higher levels of quality and security by design.

Core Concept

Value Stream Management places its roots in ‘lean’ manufacturing and supply chain management – that is, process optimization in the world of physical product delivery. The core notion is to think of activities in terms of a ‘value stream’ (rather than a process), in which value should be measurable, and maximized, at every stage.

Getting Started

  • Consider tools and mechanisms that can deliver management information both in terms of process efficiency and resulting business impact.
  • Look at ways to present information to different stakeholder groups, to enable intercommunication and support broader decision making.
  • Use VSM to set out a framework for DevOps best practice, which can then be replicated across the organization as additional departments and projects adopt it.

Key Takeaways

  • Do not end with efficiency.
  • Drive incremental improvements.
  • Integrate with broader dashboards.
  • Recognize challenges as opportunities.
  • Manage development pipelines as products.
  • Embrace value in software delivery in terms of both principles and tooling.

Further Resources