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Key Criteria for Evaluating Value Stream Management v1.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Summary

With its roots in “lean” manufacturing and supply chain management, Value Stream Management (VSM) focuses on software delivery processes such as DevOps, assessing and improving both efficiency (saving money) and effectiveness (adding benefit). VSM plays the role of Zen master across software development and operations, asking why things are as they are and whether they can be improved. VSM tools go hand in hand with best practices, offering real-time insights to help decision-makers:

  • Prioritize development goals
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Increase speed of innovation
  • Enable collaboration on digital delivery goals

As such, tools can respond to the need for value stream efficiency, by enabling organizations to identify and address bottlenecks in the development, testing, and deployment processes. And they can promote effectiveness by offering measures that link return on investment, customer satisfaction, and other business-facing criteria.

In this report, we review the emerging best practices around VSM and look at the table stakes, key criteria, and emerging advancements that are shaping and guiding VSM today. We consider top-level evaluation metrics to inform decision-making around VSM tool adoption, and we examine the following differentiating key criteria:

  • Decision-making dashboards
  • End-to-end value-based measurement
  • Broader measurement and improvement
  • Value stream portfolios
  • Mapping and modeling management

We recognize that VSM practices and tools are not an end in themselves, but act as enablers to help organizations scale their efforts and deliver software-based innovation more quickly. As a starting point for organizations looking to adopt VSM today, we would offer the following guidance:

  • Start, but do not end with efficiency—effectiveness is the ultimate goal
  • Drive incremental improvements and deliver value at every stage
  • Integrate VSM tools with broader IT and business dashboards
  • Manage workflows as products in their own right
  • Recognize challenges as a starting point and a catalyst for change

Note: The terms “pipeline” and “workflow” are used largely synonymously in this report. A value stream can be seen as either one, but with an understanding of its benefits and costs built in.

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