Table of Contents
DevOps has been adopted in most enterprises, many of whom are now looking to scale their efforts beyond pilots or isolated initiatives. As they do so however, they can find themselves on the curve of diminishing returns (i.e. the more you do, the less efficient it becomes). Plus, it can become harder to coordinate information and activity between stakeholders, each of which may have different needs and constraints. The result can undermine the very principles of continuous delivery and deployment upon which DevOps depends. A good part of the response lies in offering more consistent, structured pipelines, better measurement, and management across development teams. But, it is not always obvious how or what elements of the development pipeline and toolchain to incorporate, manage, and measure.
This is where Value Stream Management (VSM) comes in, derived from lean manufacturing principles, in which a delivery process is monitored in terms of its efficiency at each step. This enables unexpected bottlenecks to be identified from a tactical perspective, plus the overall process can be assessed in terms of hand-offs, repetition, and other criteria, enabling the process to be improved as a whole.
While iterative software delivery differs from manufacturing, it can benefit from the measurability, insights, and process improvement brought by VSM. From a principles and tooling perspective, VSM incorporates the following aspects:
- Value Stream Mapping, is used to model the steps of a process in a measurable fashion.
- Value Stream Efficiency, identifies and removes bottlenecks in the development, testing, and deployment process.
- Value Stream Effectiveness, provides measures that link to return on investment, customer satisfaction, and other business-facing criteria.
As such, Value Stream Management helps enterprises to:
- Assess the ability of their software workflows to deliver innovation into deployment, and make appropriate improvement decisions.
- Provide real-time insights to decision makers to guide the day-to-day prioritization of development goals.
- Link technology departments with the business, to support better collaboration on digital delivery goals.
In conclusion, while Value Stream Management is supported by the necessary tools (some of which we look at here), it is more important to have a value-oriented mindset across the software delivery process and beyond.