VSM 101: Value trumps flow

by Jeremy

2020 was a big year for value streams in terms of awareness and education. But, now that organizations and development teams understand what a value stream management program can do for them, 2021 will emphasize getting the value out of value stream management.  In a webinar on SD Times, ConnectALL’s COO Lance Knight, Onit’s vice president of product Eric Robertson, and HCL Software’s director of DevOps advisory and adoption, Chris Nowak, talked about common challenges they see in the VSM space and how organizations can start to realize the benefits. 

Robertson explained that while organizations have been successful at gaining visibility into what is being released, the connection between the value created and the objective and critical results is still missing, and that’s because the value lives in different systems.  People are still struggling around integrating their toolchains. [Specifically] integrating planning tools with other systems. If you don’t have that linkage, then it’s hard to track that value and link it back,” Robertson said. 

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According to Knight, value stream management initiatives need to go beyond the DevOps toolchain, beyond flow, and move more towards being outcome-driven.  Value trumps flow…we spend a lot of time on improving flow in our DevOps perspective, but not enough time making sure what we are doing is valuable yet.” Knight explained.

Is what I am doing going to get me the outcomes I want? We still want to release all the time, remove quick, often, in small batches with higher quality…but if I’m not releasing things of value, then I’m just maintaining the world.  Nowak added that “flow for flow means nothing unless you are delivering value.” Just because code was released into

Production doesn’t mean the journey ends there. Teams need to keep digging into customer satisfaction and whether or not what they are doing makes sense as a whole. But, it does become complicated because the value stream crosses all the disciplines. To be successful and stay grounded, Nowak explained you need an excellent approach to problem-solving. “You need to look for a place where you can analyze it well and get your hands around the problem and start there. Start small.”

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