What Does Value Stream Management Mean to the CIO?
Part 1 of a 3-part series on Value Stream Management
January 24, 2019

Bob Davis
Plutora

Every company today is a software company, which means the role of CIO has never been more important. With the growing number of tools and methods available today it can be challenging — especially for large, complex enterprises — to deliver software at scale and improve the customer experience at the same.

Enterprises are under constant pressure to drive value fast in competitive landscapes, and the primary means to drive that value is increasingly being done through the development of quality software. Enterprises are also amidst a transition of legacy thinking where IT reported up to the CFO, and the primary goal was to reduce costs. Now, in forward thinking organizations, CIOs are beginning to understand that their primary goal is actually delivering value.

Leading IT organizations are no longer concentrating on simply how fast they can deliver software, but on how much business value they can deliver at speed. And how every customer product, service or application has its own value stream.

This mindset shift has led CIOs to look closely at the software delivery process and how value flows through it. For CIOs to provide quality customer experiences, it has become crucial for those in the role to find a holistic way to measure all end-to-end activities. If they fail to measure these activities, they risk wasting resources to optimize something that isn’t within the constraints of the organization.

The Future of Software Delivery: Value Stream Management

Jonathan Smart notes that the advent of the value stream has helped enable organizations to look at how they optimize their portfolios, and to focus on the strategic objectives that senior management want to have visibility of.

Once an organization has identified these value streams, it becomes imperative to capture, visualize, analyze and optimize critical indicators of speed and quality of your software delivery through value stream management (VSM). VSM is being implemented to address the key challenges of releases and test environments independent of methodology, technology or level of automation.

Some popular studies promote value delivery as how much code gets written, checked-in and buit, but the issue with this focus is that doing so is similar to trying to evaluate how far you’ve traveled in your car by looking at how long the car’s engine has been on.

Rather, the focus of value streams should be to not optimize the wrong thing. Evaluating the entire value stream should look at the value creation from ideation through delivery, interconnecting the systems, people, and processes in order to do so. Constraints are evaluated in this process, and that is where the focus should go.

Under Pressure

With CIOs under pressure to create greater value for customers through innovation--all while reducing cost and improving quality — they are focusing on how they can gain holistic visibility into how this value is created.

This is no easy task, and rising frustration is understandable. CIOs everywhere have followed the standard software delivery playbook. They've attended all of the tech conferences to gain knowledge, invested large sums of money in Agile and DevOps, and brought in the tooling that they were told they needed. So why can’t they answer the single most important question — are we improving in a demonstrable way?

For starters, Agile and DevOps are limited in what they can provide. Often these methodologies are only applied to certain areas of the value stream, which in turn limits the benefits that can be reaped to those confined areas. Even more often, these methodologies are applied without evaluating constraints or measuring the outcomes.

CIOs need the ability to quickly identify issues in these processes when attempting to trace the flow of work across the entire process. However, they lack the end-to-end visibility, traceability, or governance over the process, leaving them without the ability to see how business value flows across their value stream.

CIO Creating Value

Currently, there are three trends pushing CIOs:

1. Reacting to market pressures such as competitive threats, security pressures and the shift to focusing on growth.

2. Handling the shifting architecture by improving automation, transitioning to the cloud, and reducing technical debt.

3. Improving culture by making an interconnected team despite teams having diverse tool chains, geographies and methodologies.

CIOs are agnostic about the tooling their development teams use, but they want them all to work together. They want to deliver greater value for their customers by whatever means possible to provide faster build time and better quality of delivery.

The issues is that they’re frustrated because they’ve been told Agile, and now DevOps, will change the world and make their lives easier while the results continue to lag behind the vision they’ve been sold. Now that they have been automating more, the diversity has compounded the difficulties of working together with other teams. This was illustrated in the DORA report, Accelerate: State of DevOps 2018 - Strategies for a New Economy.

CIOs also can lack visibility and don’t have the proper insight into the value stream. This lack of visibility creates siloed independent product teams, and in turn makes the CIO unable to improve it. These limitations are in place because no one has mapped the value stream

Benefits of Value Stream Management

A quality VSM solution connects the network of tools and teams for planning, building and delivering software at an enterprise-level. With VSM, CIOs are able to overcome their visibility issues to deliver products faster and stay compliant.

In an enterprise, compliance beats down any process, giving a rise to additional problems. In order to have effective change, you need to mitigate business risks associated with software legal compliance by building legal considerations into the development process itself. Mapping the value stream implements compliance gates into various stages of the process, giving teams the ability to identify the roadblocks in place that wouldn’t allow the build to get to production due to it needing further documentation.

What’s also missing in the current world for the CIO as Agile/DevOps teams go more autonomous is a lack of visibility. With VSM, however, the CIO is provided with a total end to end visibility that allows for complete transparency into the process. Individual teams know what is going on with added visibility and traction across the entire portfolio, regardless of teams and projects.

Read Part 2: The Role of Managing the Value Stream

Bob Davis is CMO at Plutora
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