The Value Stream: Providing A Common Language Between Business Leaders and IT Professionals

January 9, 2019 Eric Robertson

It’s no surprise that software development professionals and IT leaders don’t always see eye to eye with business executives. The two groups often have different goals and priorities. It is, after all, human nature to be most mindful of those concerns which affect you on a daily basis. For the developer, that might be infrastructure stability and for a CFO, it probably has more to do with balancing the ledger in a straightforward manner, meanwhile the CEO is concerned with appeasing investors. In recent years, however, one concept has helped to unite teams all across the organization — and that is, Value Stream Management (VSM).

This idea, taught in business schools across the country, is a great unifier and rallying point. In fact, I’ve recently seen many executive-level people getting involved in decisions around software development and the VSM conversation is what makes that possible.

Before we get much further, let’s very quickly define value stream management. This is a shift in focus from how fast an organization can deliver a product or application, and instead concentrates on how much business value an organization can deliver at speed. It then looks further at how every customer product, service or application has its own value stream. The concept meshes really well with some of the prevalent concepts in both business (like being “customer obsessed”) as well as dev concepts (like delivering maximum value through incremental improvements, a key tenet of Agile principles).

However, the reason that both CIOs and CFOs, for instance, are taking notice of VSM across the entire software delivery pipeline is because of the massive benefits that are possible. As it stands, tech concepts like DevOps and Agile are really great at optimizing the build and deploy stages of the development pipeline, but focus less on what happens before and after that process. What that creates is a disconnected pipeline, where value is not necessarily mapped through the entire process and optimizing the entire workflow is nearly impossible.

This is where the concept of value stream management comes into play. Tools like CollabNet’s VersionOne enable business leaders across IT and operations to look at the entire scope of their development pipeline, optimizing value not only in the development stages, but going much further in mapping value through strategic planning, budgeting, road mapping, release and iteration planning, all the way to release automation and deployment.

The end result is an organization that becomes much more focused on delivering meaningful value, not only to the company’s internal organizations by optimizing their workflows and increasing efficiencies, but more importantly, delivering better products fast. It’s driving more value for everyone — IT leaders, customers and the business.

Importantly, value stream management also serves as an effective way to provide greater organizational visibility to all stakeholders. This means breaking down barriers and increasing team collaboration and communication.

If this also sounds too good to be true — trust me, it’s not. Although, it is by no means a simple task either. But with trusted partners like CollabNet VersionOne and Icon Agility Services however, value stream management can become a reality for your organization.

So if you’re an IT leader, pulling out your hair because the pressure is on to deliver software releases more quickly, yet you don’t have the confidence or visibility you need into the process and teams behind the scenes, you may wonder: What is the best way to explain your challenges to the C-level and get the buy-in you need for Agile and DevOps initiatives? You guessed it, the answer is Value Stream Management. By focusing on something that both sides of the table understand, you can reach common ground in your discussion and better focus on how to make the best business decisions, based on what brings the most value to the business.

Want to learn more? Check out this recent webinar on Bringing Value Stream Management to the Enterprise.


About the Author

Eric Robertson

Eric Robertson is responsible for product management and marketing at CollabNet VersionOne. Prior to CollabNet, Eric served as Director of services and portfolio management for enterprise solutions at Unisys. Eric joined Cisco through a company acquisition, where he led product management for Cisco's cloud automation and SAP ALM extension offerings. Eric has successfully held product development, services and management roles with enterprises and start-ups and has provided consulting services to Fortune 500 companies. Eric holds a patent in the area of virtualization and a Master's Degree in Electrical and Software Engineering from University of Texas in Austin and continues to further his research in domain- specific languages, and intelligent automation.

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