In any software delivery organization, at any given point in time, multiple projects are running in parallel. Also, there are also numerous product versions released to the market which need to be supported.
But would you agree that most teams in IT Service companies only get exposure at the project level? This significantly impacts the flow of product deliverables to users. Not only is there duplication of work, but such an approach also results in excessive waste.
To increase visibility across cross-functional teams, and to ensure an uninterrupted flow of product deliverables, organizations need to embrace lean management methods such as Value Stream Mapping. These methods allow them to analyze, design, and manage the flow of deliverables and successfully bring a product to the customer.
The Evolution of Agile to Enterprise Agility
Since the inception of software development, the Waterfall method has been synonymous with software development. While the linear nature of this method makes it easy to understand and manage the various aspects of software development, it is slow and somewhat unresponsive to change.
As the need for faster delivery cycles grew, Agile became a popular choice. Not only does it help reduce waste, it also allows teams to drive efforts towards high-value features, in shorter time frames.
However, the Agile methodology also carries its own set of challenges which can impact delivery outcomes: the excessively long time-to-market for products, the high cost of delivering software, in addition to poor software quality, and lackluster ROI affect the organization’s ability to keep pace.
These drawbacks led to the rise of Enterprise Agility. Enterprise Agility emphasizes on keeping WIP/ Inventory low, enabling teams to go to production as soon as possible. Using a combination of Agile Scrum + Automation of CI + CD + Testing, organizations move away from a scope-driven project management approach to a more time-bound delivery. This ensures that a working product is always available for release.
Introducing Value Stream Mapping
To maintain a continuous flow of customer deliverables DevOps teams need to have a sound understanding of the software manufacturing assembly line from specialized consulting to implementation.
This can be achieved through Value Stream Mapping – a lean manufacturing technique. This technique allows teams to analyze, design, and manage the movement of materials and information required to bring a product to a customer. Since it depicts various work streams and information flows according to the value they add (or don’t), teams can quickly root out items that don’t add value.
In the DevOps world, value stream mapping holds great importance as it can be used to improve any process where steps and repeatable, and handoffs are multiple. Since a lot of software development waste is a result of inefficient handoffs – due to low productivity and poor product quality – Value Stream Mapping helps identify waste and streamline the development process through better team communication and collaboration.
Understanding Software Development Value Stream
Reducing or eliminating waste can greatly help software organizations improve their bottom line. By discovering inefficient handoffs, and the root cause and the source of the waste, DevOps teams can consciously improve behavior, culture, communication, and collaboration. Such an approach helps organizations discard individual opinions and prioritize tasks based on the customer’s perspective.
Value Stream Mapping introduces lean principles into the software development process. It helps reduce end-to-end lead time and enables continuous delivery. Since it encompasses all activities across the software development life cycle, teams can get the required visibility into how value is created, and what needs to be done to optimize this value – to provide exceptional customer experiences.
To successfully conduct value stream mapping in your software development process, here’s what you need to do:
- First, identify the level at which you plan to do value streaming: product, feature, story, bug, or all or some of these.
- Next, empower a team of skilled resources which can successfully conduct the mapping.
- Define the steps needed for mapping, create a timeline, assess your current map, and accordingly design and implement the future map.
- Make sure to build a measurement system around the value stream. This will allow you to continuously monitor how your development process aligns and responds to changes, and how successfully you’re able to eliminate wastes.
Achieving Success with Integrated ALM
If you’re looking to reduce wastes, detect and rectify bugs sooner, and accelerate time to market, using Value Stream Mapping to drive Integrated ALM is a great way to achieve all of this. Through efficient real-time collaboration and access to a shared knowledge base of updated information, Integrated ALM simplifies the management of software development teams.
The outcome of Value Stream Mapping exercise, when used as an input to Integrated ALM, can drive exceptional results: For example, you can introduce cross functional workflows based on future value maps, integrate systems where there are wastes due to broken systems, or improve notifications where wastes arise due to teams waiting for information.
Shared project management features, enhanced transparency, traceability, and performance measurement are just some of the many benefits of using Value Stream Mapping for Integrated ALM.
A bevy of factors decides the size of a release unit, such as industry, product/service, type of organization (B2B or B2C), cost of release, opportunity loss, competition, and standards, among others. Integrated ALM drives higher levels of efficiencies by reducing the batch size of software release units. Since software products require support well beyond their initial development, Integrated ALM, along with DevOps, helps organizations achieve operational delivery excellence by integrating governance, development, and maintenance activities.
DevOps enabled Integrated ALM offers a single view into the development process, allowing teams to more easily define workflows across the software lifecycle, including deliverables and milestones. Your teams can thus enjoy better communication, align software objectives with business goals, and improve time to market.
While DevOps helps in managing aspects such as Configuration Management, Build Automation, Release Management, Deployment Automation, and Infrastructure Management, Integrated ALM helps in streamlining Product Management, Portfolio Management, Requirement Management, Project Tracking, Test Management, and Customer Support. Together, they are everything software teams need to boost compliance, collaboration, integration, and traceability.
To achieve operational excellence, organizations have to improve their software development process continuously. While teams have come a long way in their journey from Waterfall to Agile, they still face challenges. It is mostly because most of these methods focus only on certain aspects of the software development process – and not across the entire life cycle.
As Enterprise Agility becomes an integral part of organizations, methods such as Value Stream Mapping and Integrated ALM provide increased visibility across the development organization, while elevating problems or bottlenecks. They are allowing teams not just to deliver software at speed, but also business value at the same rate.