Create successful value streams to ensure continuous improvement
A value stream is a process that creates a product or service for which our customers would be willing to pay. This definition, while correct, is too vague. Once we put it into practice, we must be much more precise, since making mistakes can cause far-reaching damage to our organization, in the same way, that doing it well will make us more competitive. How do we create a successful value stream?
The most successful value streams follow lean principles and put customer value at the centre of our work, ensuring that this value continually increases. This type of thinking or method shifts the focus of our management from optimizing tools, teams and separate departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through complete value streams These types of flows flow horizontally, through tools, teams and departments.
Optimizing the entire flow eliminates waste and minimizes bottlenecks, allowing us to respond faster to changing customer priorities while increasing our ability to deliver high-quality, low-cost, innovative solutions.
1. Start at the beginning
Who best understands what your customers value? Usually not someone from IT. Paradoxically, many value streams only include teams associated with DevOps. Good value streams start with teams that understand what customers value and can quantify value, based on customer feedback and market research. Without understanding the needs and expectations of our clients, we cannot know if the work we are doing is really valuable.
Value streams are not effective if they are incomplete. Each step must be defined so that waiting times and waste can be eliminated from the entire flow. Optimizing the flow is much easier if we include all the steps.
2. Include all players.
Do we need to go through external audits? Do the new features have an impact on contracts? Do we need to update the marketing or train the support staff? Value streams must encompass more than just the development and delivery of a product. Everyone involved in product creation and approval must be considered when defining value streams. Leaving them out can cause us a delay in the contribution of the value.
3. It's not just about speed.
Many companies try to accelerate the development of a product or service and yet create nothing of value. It doesn't matter how fast we go if we create something that nobody wants to use. The heads of many organizations recognize that they make financing decisions without objective criteria. Objectively, we must finance what adds value to our customers, or things that will allow more members of our organization to focus more effectively on customer value.
Let's make sure our value streams include a way to detect and stop orphaned projects, in which, the applicant has left the company or changed roles and no longer cares about project delivery, or zombie projects, or those projects that IT has done, but that applicants no longer care about. Orphan and zombie projects are a complete waste for an organization and account for up to 10% of IT spending. Sometimes stopping work can be more valuable than starting it.
4. Find the gaps.
Almost every business has a data breach. Either because teams can't track how strategies break down, or because they haven't placed dashboards at all levels to monitor work. Having data as a natural result of the process we use is important and profitable. In addition, the data must be accessible to all levels of the organization. Individuals, teams, managers, directors, vice presidents, and C-Levels must have dashboards and an appropriate level of metrics.
It is essential to divide the work in a coherent way, one year strategies cannot easily be divided into stories that fit into two-week sprints. Too much is lost in the interpretation when the incremental steps are not defined. Job breakdowns should look like this:
Objective> Capacity> Feature> Story> Task.
5. Know our “Work in Progress”
Let's imagine that we get to the point where our value streams are established and workflows, but there is only one problem: it seems that we are not doing anything. Work in progress is not just for front-line teams, it must be traced throughout the value stream.
When we map the entire value stream, we can see not just how much work teams complete, but how much demand is on the order book. Too much demand can also indicate a lack of criteria at the strategy levels, where they should occur. Even as development and delivery teams speed up, the demand continues to rise. Very often, the demand is twice what the teams can actually fill.
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