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Value stream mapping is a flowchart process utilized to explain, evaluate, and develop the steps needed to deliver a service or product to the customers, mainly in complex scenarios. The value stream signifies information as well as task flows, charted as adding value or not adding from the perspective of a customer.

Value stream mapping that provides an all-inclusive view of the system or process, can be derived at any level, for mapping an easy managerial process and, also an intricate global-level production and sales processes. VSM also assists in detecting some non-value improving steps which should be improved or removed through change of process and/or automation.

Value stream maps can be developed for every individual product and service for every kind of business. A value stream map can be distributed into 3 sections:

i) Production or process flow

In this section, the process flow is derived from left to right. If parallel tasks or subtasks are there, they should be sketched from left to right under the main flow. When portrayed in this way, it is simpler to convey the main tasks which happen with time often throughout the process, from smaller steps.

ii) Information or communication flow

This section showcases all the formal as well as informal communication which arises in the value stream. No standard flow of communication is there as it can stream in any direction.

iii) Timelines and travel distances

Timelines exist at the bottom of the value stream map which suggests the time-related data assessed in the improvement process. As the top line implies the process lead time, the bottom line implies the total cycle time. The other line set at the bottom of the map displays the travel distance of the work or product or people shifting through the process.

Why Use Value Stream Mapping?

Value Stream Mapping allows the team and the leadership to look at where the real value can be added in the process, letting them expand on the overall productivity connected with the software product delivery or feature request.    

The advantages of VSM arises from Lean principles to distinguish and eradicate waste. Though it has been utilized in manufacturing traditionally, the principles are extremely valuable in areas like IT and operations proposals.

According to Authors James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos, a value stream is the “set of specific actions required to bring a specific product through the three critical management tasks of any business…the problem-solving task,…information management task,…physical information task”. – from their book, The Machine that Changed the World in 1990

Just for your knowhow, the term ‘value stream’ was coined in their book, which was further popularized in Lean Thinking by James Womack and Daniel Jones in 1996.

Software Delivery is just the start

According to Steve Pereira, “By 2023, 70% of the organizations will use value stream management to improve flow in the DevOps pipeline, leading to faster delivery of customer value.”

Why Use VSM in DevOps?

DevOps is a culture where everyone is accountable for continuous delivery, starting from planning, analyzing, software development life cycles [SDLC] to close monitoring of production and continuous improvement till the last outcome. This is an enduring cross-functional methodology, embedded in Lean and Agile norms.

Value streams are the visual tools that allows the companies to assess and track accurately what all are most vital to them and which will give in actual value to the customers at the end.

Here is the list which will portray why your DevOps teams should use VSM –

  • Builds better visibility and traceability throughout the entire cycle
  • Manages errors and flaws, such as bugs
  • Nurtures cross-functional collaboration
  • Shows opportunities for automation
  • Drives faster, integrated feedback
  • Offers context and process transparency with data and visuals
  • Highlights results and KPIs
  • Improves in identifying bottlenecks and pain points
  • Excludes unnecessary and inefficient processes

Hence, utilize the value streams to obtain proper vision and manage vital improvements to make sure you have the accurate bandwidth to provide for functionality and the documents to set it into the right place.

How to utilize VSM in DevOps

In the DevOps scenario, the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and lean methodologies are customized to the particular action, like shifting work between the teams to crafting substantial deliverables and incident details. VSM in DevOps is a unifying visual interpretation of how business and IT develop strongly, implement, and further operate the workflows. This should start with SDLC and go through the quality policy and delivery/strategies.

The value stream should be defining everything from your starting and completion points, from the product expansion to operation, and much beyond it. Therefore, develop your diagram applying key metrics to verify how you describe and assess full success so that you can repeat and constantly enhance accordingly.

Who will benefit from value stream mapping?

Benefits will be achieved from the several team members, stakeholders, executives, and shareholders. The actual benefit to VSM is gained by the customer. The customer will come across an excellent-quality product, it will be delivered sooner, and it will better meet their requirements and expectations.

Value Stream Management – Significance

Tools are designed to follow and report on data of all kinds, involving the data applied in the value stream maps. These tools are perfect for offering dashboards, reports, and analytics that track the performance of the complete mapped process in almost real-time. The tools are entrusted to assist businesses to deliver better value to their customers. They offer great precision and lucidity of the current state throughout the full lifecycle. They also allow the user to practice through into the data to identify and tackle problem areas.

Whichever tool you decide to apply for your current state metrics tracking, you will need to ensure that is easily accessible to those teams in the whole process, so that it persists to offer that all-inclusive outlook for every team that is a portion of the value stream.

Therefore, the target is to build a corporate culture that offers the best product possible for meeting the customer requirements and expectations. This is finally implemented by making constant upgrades to the value stream. With your customer requirements and expectations growing, our value stream will also require modifying and evolve continuously with time!