Stuck On Your Digital Transformation Journey? Learn To Map Your Value Stream
Fortunately, an approach has emerged to provide a strong framework in the face of these challenges: value stream management. It takes a broad look at the people, processes, and technology within an organization and identifies the holes. Do you need new skills? Do you need to minimize infrastructure? Are you automating enough or too much? By taking a deep dive into these questions,
Bob Davis | Forbes
If you’re doing it right, the software you choose will allow your organization to more intuitively address the needs of customers. In a society built around instant gratification, customer demands often have to be addressed in days and hours, not months. It would even be fair to say companies today have to be able to see into the future to anticipate these needs.
Translated into business terms, we are talking about Business Agility. This means listening to the customer’s needs but also providing solutions at a pace that makes the customer more successful. This focus drives the need for development speed, which often requires transformation of software expertise and processes to stay ahead.
This sounds like the cost of doing business in today’s climate, right? It is, but knowing that something is both important and needs to be adopted urgently doesn’t automatically provide any insight about how to get from A to B.
So, for those still charting the course, this raises some questions. Who has the real-world experience to make this transition happen? How does a business digitally transform? How do we get everybody on board with this transition? What do we have, what do we need and what do we keep in terms of technology?
And probably the most important question of all is: How do we make all of this happen while still keeping the business running? It might feel like trying to change tires while driving a car, but it doesn’t have to.
Scaling Agile Software Development
When you talk to the people who are truly embracing a fast, agile way of developing software, they often rave about the benefits and make it sound easy. But in truth, it is a fundamental shift in the way an organization works. The crux of scaling this approach is that it requires significant commitment and cultural adjustment.
Industry experts have been shouting this from the rooftops for years — they’ve been saying that culture is a key component of DevOps and transformation. But it takes seeing it firsthand to actually understand what they mean. The biggest mistake I see organizations make when they’re taking on transformation is to throw tools at it and automate everything in sight without planning, direction or goals. There’s no doubt that people and culture can feel like an afterthought to be addressed when the engineering problems have been solved, but organizations that ignore it and try to take shortcuts may never get out of their own way.
So, there’s no point “playing” at DevOps, and there’s no room for half-hearted attempts at box-ticking — because if the process evolves without proper governance, team collaboration and overall insight, progress can go unmeasured and projects can run off the rails.
Finding The Value
Digital transformation at its most fundamental level is about garnering more value, gaining a competitive edge and reducing costs by leveraging technological advancement. But this doesn’t look the same for everyone, so you have to find your own formula to be successful.
Fortunately, an approach has emerged to provide a strong framework in the face of these challenges: value stream management. It takes a broad look at the people, processes and technology within an organization and identifies the holes. Do you need new skills? Do you need to minimize infrastructure? Are you automating enough or too much? By taking a deep dive into these questions, you can map current and potential value to overtake competitors.
Implementing Value Stream Management
But what does this actually look like? If you adopt a value stream management approach to software delivery — and accelerate your digital transformation journey — where do you see the benefits?
Many organizations still depend on legacy application development processes that involve longer development times and take weeks to release software features and updates. As a result of this, customers can grow frustrated, other internal teams can grow impatient and, ultimately, the business can be compromised. One of the biggest roadblocks to faster, more agile development can be the approval process, which often involves multiple teams working in silos, creating a lack of visibility and resulting in minimal collaboration. That is a recipe that conspires against successful releases, producing product slips and business surprises.
All of this disjointed bureaucracy can limit the business impact of technology.
The first step to mapping value is taking a step back to get an overall holistic view of the entire product delivery toolchain, or value stream. Next comes:
Allocating a team to look at every stage of the process
Identifying each of the teams, steps, and tools involved in the process
Observing firsthand the role that each team plays in the application development process and understanding where delays and wait times occur
When you use this process, you can develop a value stream map to intelligently identify where you’re gaining value, where you’re losing it, which steps you could better address elsewhere and which steps you can eliminate.
These steps will enable open discussions about the overall software development process to ensure you consider all stakeholders. From here, you can work to develop a plan to implement the findings and work to reduce the development cycle time significantly.
That kind of impact is where the “transformation” idea is at its most relevant and powerful and is the kind of story I believe we’re going to see more often in the years ahead. By adopting a mindset that embraces change, identifies value and creates a process that delivers, you can determine the direction of any digital transformation journey and ensure you’re able to succeed.
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