Although there is increased adoption of Dev(Sec)Ops, IT organizations often face tensions (skills and availability of teams, budgets, schedules, etc.) that require efficiency in all areas very quickly. Value Stream Management (VSM) is thus presented as a solution allowing companies to optimize their processes and improve efficiency, thus becoming a valuable aid for IT governance.
VSM And IT Governance
Value Stream Management (VSM) is an industry-proven approach. It identifies, measures, and evaluates specific value stream elements and losses over the software development life cycle (SDLC) – from idea to use. While agile and DevOps approaches focus on optimizing quality and time to production, applying integration and automation, VSM helps IT governance and projects into a new stage of maturity by optimizing the DevOps value stream, reducing waste, and – more importantly – measuring results rather than deliverables.
On the other hand, corporate governance defines the structure and relationships that control, direct or regulate the performance of an organization and its projects, portfolios, infrastructures, and processes. On the other hand, corporate IT governance defines and implements processes, structures, and relational/organizational mechanisms that enable stakeholders, businesses, and IT teams to carry out their responsibilities in favor of alignment, as well as the creation and protection of value*. This value can be defined as the results that IT delivers to the business and its partners and customers.
Putting VSM Into Practice
To achieve these objectives, IT governance will focus on at least two significant axes: strategic alignment and value realization.
Strategic alignment is one of the most important axes. Indeed, even if IT teams work together, they are often distributed. It is, therefore, essential to keep everyone on the same page. Most DevSecOps tools focus on the work to be done rather than on the purpose for which it is being done. And when teams need help understanding why they’re doing a task or how their work fits in with other team members, their activities may not align with business goals. They may develop software that, although functionally correct, solves only a subset of the needs it was intended to satisfy.
Solutions like Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM) then help clients do things right and the right things. That is to say, deliver the projects taking into account the IT objectives and, therefore, the company’s objectives. Doing the right thing means validating and prioritizing new demands against strategic goals, budgets, resources, and timelines. SPM solutions provide decision-makers with comprehensive and detailed visibility into strategic and operational needs and ongoing organizational projects. This then allows you to see which projects and operational activities they should be working on, but also to have an overview of the budget available to date,
While these solutions help decision-makers, the link between development teams and their activities sometimes needs to be added. The VSM helps with this connection and links the SPM solutions data with the Software Factory data. All stakeholders have access to a dashboard of critical metrics to manage and combine product strategy at scale to align with business needs. Using what-if scenarios to prioritize the best combination of deliverables versus investments is possible. Lean portfolio management techniques also help make better planning decisions, incorporating risk exposure and resource limits.
Measuring the results (‘value’) delivered to end customers requires capturing end-user experience (UX) and user behavior. Measuring the business value contribution for new products or updates requires collecting business metrics related to transactions made through those products. This data can be captured from financial management tools and stored in a central Data Lake along with user experience and end-user behavior data for correlation and analysis.
The Importance Of Adopting VSM
Now, Agile and DevOps are increasingly present in IT projects and organizations. These approaches have many tools (request management, continuous integration, test repository, automation, etc.) that make up the “Software Factory.” For its part, IT governance always has more constraints (time, budget, etc.), and, in addition to maintaining optimal control, it must have and give visibility.
Suppose the maturity of processes and the “Software Factory” lead to industrialization in manufacturing. In that case, this myriad of tools generates much information that needs to be used for governance. And this is where the VSM can help IT governance and the projects that depend on it. Indeed, the VSM approach allows exploiting this data to provide factual KPIs and transversal dashboards on the manufacturing phases.
These elements will help decision-makers identify possible improvements in the manufacturing process and ensure that the efforts invested align with the strategy and the contribution of value. The VSM applies to the end-to-end life cycle but can be broken down into modules. As with any deployment of a new approach, common sense must be preferred. Therefore, it is recommended to follow these three tips:
- Finding the right sponsor level: from experience, the more visible the deployment, the more likely it is to succeed.
- Start with the part of the process already mastered internally: mastering an approach does not mean nothing is left to optimize. On the other hand, the volume of data and the teams invested, induced by the mastery of the process, will reinforce the relevance of the indicators and the effective execution of the optimization action plan.
- Implement the VSM in Agile mode, process by process, project by project: even in the deployment processes, you have to look for an acceptable ROI. So it is imperative to identify and prioritize the modules with a quick result to manufacture a success and then extend the implementation.
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