The rapid creation of digital products using DevOps, DevSecOps, and Agile practices, as a rule, guarantees the best performance. However, the high speed of software development does not always lead to the desired results.
The search for new ways to help achieve goals not only for individual teams but for the entire business led to the discovery of Value Stream Management – a method of managing the value stream that combines the culture, tools and methodologies of Agile, Lean, DevOps, and DevSecOps.
Value Stream Management (VSM) solutions, when used for software development; perform the same function as, for example, a GPS navigator for drivers. They provide complete information about the process, including the point of departure, destination, and context (a general understanding of the situation), show the current location, give a forecast of arrival time, and also provide recommendations for optimizing the route. That is, they control and help to improve the software creation process from start to finish.
VSM is designed to control the stream of creating value. From a business perspective, value is something that can be used by the consumer and bring profit to its creator. A value stream consists of steps that add value. Value stream and value stream map are not new concepts. They are borrowed from lean manufacturing (Lean) and are widely used in various types of production and project management, where they have proven their effectiveness.
The production of a digital product is intangible and is a “black box” for business owners. A digital product moving along the development pipeline cannot be touched and reviewed until its final release. The list of the developer’s tasks looks like an ancient manuscript to an ordinary business owner.
Without deep understanding and visualizing the entire end-to-end stream, it is hard not only to optimize the development process but also to manage it. VSM allows you to see the entire value stream, identify unnecessary activities and reduce costs. In other words, VSM allows you to implement the principles of lean manufacturing in the production of intangible products like software.
VSM solutions help define and organize the value stream at the fastest possible speed along the shortest route by consolidating data from various DevSecOps tools and displaying it in a single form on a single dashboard. These solutions enable businesses to see:
- At what stage is the product development now?
- What is slowing down the release of a product?
- With what strategic goals of the company is this or that task consistent?
- What is the current interdependence between teams and projects?
VSM solutions provide tremendous benefits for large teams building complex products. Solutions of this class are designed to optimize the development process and its relationship with the business’s strategic goals. VSM allows you to manage software projects so that each action adds value to the product; thus, you can make the most of all available resources – labor force, time, equipment.
Let us take a look at what the Value Stream Management solution consists of.
Planning the development process with the help of VSM allows you to manage releases using Agile best practices across the entire enterprise: when many teams are involved and a huge number of projects, and when there are intricate interdependencies between projects and teams.
If you go back to our example with a GPS navigator, you get a map of a large city with traffic lights, highways, and one-way streets.
The orchestration of development tools, when you track the status of each project, allows you to:
- Detect bottlenecks in the pipeline.
- Unify and standardize processes.
- Integrate security into the production cycle to avoid possible cyber attacks in the future.
- Integrate compliance.
- Automate the steps required to release applications, including manual production steps.
Analytics helps to understand the infinity of events and reveal hidden trends in the production cycle. DevOps tools generate a large amount of data that is consolidated and visualized in the form of metrics, reports, etc. Advanced analytics provided by VSM uses machine learning algorithms to predict the arrival time (our GPS analogy) and make recommendations for route optimization.
Software development is economically justified if the final product is valuable to the consumer who finds benefit in certain functionality. It is particularly important to be able to quickly prioritize new product features and therefore redirect investments if needed.
As an Agile-based tool, the VSM solution allows you to:
- View data on how team members are distributed between business tasks and projects.
- Organize interaction between teams.
- Track dependencies.
- Continuously track progress and performance, both at the team and project levels, with metrics, reports, and analytics generated from DevOps tools and planning roadmaps.
As a result of the adoption of a VSM solution, the company acquires the ability to identify weaknesses in the software development process, find reasons why deadlines are sometimes not met, and also receives metrics on how the value is delivered to customers.
Value Stream Management is a useful navigator needed to improve the management of software development process that offers accurate data visualized in a simple and understandable way.