Digital transformation is on everyone’s lips. The benefits of an agile, data-driven business with scalable access to cloud technology and AI-supported decisions seem to be beyond question.
It’s not some fad, but it’s also no small task to transform a business in this way: you can’t shut down your operations to focus on transformation, so how do you do both simultaneously — and safely? The reputational risk of letting customers down is potentially immense.
There are multiple ways to go about it, but in this piece we’ll focus on just one: value stream management (VSM) — a way to future-proof software delivery and bake smooth and continuous technology improvement into the fabric of your business. VSM processes help the enterprise successfully manage application delivery cost and value now, while supporting future digital transformation. In other words, helping you run today and transform tomorrow.
Understanding value stream management
The mistake many make in looking at any innovative technology as the clichéd “new normal” is that there’s an “old normal”. Change isn’t an event — it’s a constant. Today’s development methods and tools are unrecognisable from 10 years ago. Instead of approaching each technology changes as episodes, VSM’s transformative approach assumes ongoing change with a constant flow of new products and tech. It applies proven lean manufacturing principles to any digital product delivery.
A value stream is a set of actions and activities that add value to your end customers. An organisation has many value streams, each aligned to product-specific deliverables. Every stream provides insight into the definition, creation, delivery and value verification model of a product. This enables the organisation to align IT delivery with business demand, while improving a product’s value flow. Sounds obvious, but success isn’t as obvious. Digital VSM success is locked up in:
- Identifying value streams
- Tracking value throughout your product life cycle
- Identifying friction and waste in your value streams
- Refining value streams to continuously improve and maximize value for customers
VSM requires an organisational transformation in strategy and culture. Finding the right tools to support VSM practices is essential. In particular, VSM builds on modern Agile and DevOps practices by keeping projects focused on value. It tracks and manages that value throughout the change process. Organisations use VSM to define, deliver and validate the value of each product change.
What’s in VSM for me?
If you already use Agile and DevOps, or both Agile and Waterfall development methods, VSM might feel like one yet another item to add to the list of transformation methodologies. It’s not — and here’s why: rather than adding a freestanding line item to your list, appropriately executed VSM complements what you’re already doing. Good VSM practices include:
- Evaluating and improving processes
- Identifying cost reduction opportunities
- Improving delivery times
- Understanding the business value of each product change
How VSM makes a difference
Value stream processes augment Agile development processes with CI/CD, continuous testing and release orchestration. VSM supplements Agile by monitoring cost and flow, and exposing waste or friction during throughput to determine areas of potential improvement.
Successful companies don’t do blind faith. Instead, they use value measures to evaluate processes, spot cost reduction opportunities, improve delivery times and, crucially, check the business value of each change.
That is where VSM makes a difference. Suddenly, tools and platforms focus on value creation, and product delivery aligns with the highest value demands. Implementing positive change now also checks two boxes on the run and transform checklist. VSM isn’t just “one more thing”. It’s the thing that makes what you’re doing even better.
Data collection made easy
The road to digital transformation will be paved with data, but different information collection tools make collection more complex, particularly when some components are outsourced. VSM helps organisations ingest and analyse data from multiple sources to identify trends, bottlenecks, correlations and anomalies, fuelling the continuous improvement that underpins successful IT organisations in the future.
Put simply, a central VSM hub is a win-win for the enterprise looking to run and transform, improving today as it plans for tomorrow. VSM automation integrates data from disparate tools from the ground up to manage value throughout the pipeline as part of a digital transformation strategy. A good VSM approach will help improve the day-to-day delivery velocity of your running systems with no additional risk. The transformation comes when you execute value stream principles at enterprise scale, making your software factory more intelligent and efficient.
Change may be inevitable, as we’ve pointed out, but progress is not. VSM is one way to help ensure you achieve the latter while managing the former. Using VSM to maximise efficiencies from tools helps to ensure current life-cycle processes and future modernisation efforts both deliver value. The VSM hub is today’s mainstay, and tomorrow’s transformative catalyst.
About Micro Focus
Micro Focus is one of the world’s largest enterprise software providers. We deliver mission-critical technology and supporting services that help thousands of customers worldwide manage core IT elements of their business so they can run and transform — at the same time. Find out more at www.microfocus.com.
- The author, Emile Burger, is MD at Micro Focus
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