This post is from the XebiaLabs blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.
Value stream management: Spend time on what matters
The concept of eliminating waste in software delivery is nothing new. But as the demand for organizations to deliver software faster continues to mount, the benefits of eliminating waste and improving processes are often deprioritized for more pressing needs.
As organizations incorporate more DevOps tools into increasingly complex release pipelines, measuring efficiency only gets harder. The complexity of coordinating multiple tools and applications across different organizations and teams leads the whole process to become disconnected and difficult to track. All you know is that processes that used to be fast are now slow and nothing gets done as quickly or as well as it should.
Enter Value Stream Management (VSM), a practice for coalescing all of the data from the release pipeline to enable your team to deliver software at peak efficiency.
While you may have heard of VSM, it can mean different things to different organizations. In software delivery, VSM covers everything from identifying bottlenecks and process improvements to using predictive analytics to identify and eliminate release failures. Essentially, value stream management enables teams to increase efficiency through better visibility, data analytics, reporting, and mapping.
Let's take a closer look at how to extract value from each of these areas.
Pulling together everything needed for an enterprise application release requires a multitude of specialized tools and processes. Enabling stakeholders across different teams and roles to look at such a complex set of data and to use it to draw useful, actionable insights is a tall order. And the reality that much of the useful data may not be easily visible or understood only makes matters worse.
It's tough (if not impossible) to control what you can't see. Creating an effective value stream management process requires all data from across the entire release pipeline to be accessible and made visible to the appropriate stakeholders. You can't get end-to-end visibility without extracting the data from each tool in your pipeline. If data from large chunks of your release process is missing, you’re at risk of drawing incomplete or incorrect conclusions.
2. Data Analytics
Once you make all of the data within your release pipeline visible, you can use analytics to extract key insights into your software development and delivery process. For example, you can determine release failure rates and look at which tasks are taking the most time to run. Identifying these metrics enable you to spotlight bottlenecks in your release process and determine the areas where improvement will provide the most benefit.
Going a step further, you can leverage Machine Learning (ML) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to identify patterns within the data that are too complicated or subtle to be recognized by a person. These patterns can then be used for predictive DevOps, enabling you to determine whether a release will pass or fail before it even begins. The sooner in the delivery process that you can spot a failing release, the sooner you can remedy it.
Clear and effective reporting pulls together the entire VSM process. With a unified view of data from across the pipeline––provided through a single lens––you can easily get a clear indication of the health of your release process. With a powerful reporting process in place, you can use complicated sets of data to paint a clear picture. Using a dashboard to gain a holistic view on the delivery process enables you to save time and effort that is typically wasted on manually analyzing and trying to understand the data within your release pipeline. Rather than spending hours and hours digging through pages of logs, you can simply look at a graph that shows a picture of your problem.
Effective reporting also aids other crucial areas of the business, such as regulatory compliance. ‘Compliance audits’ are two words that strike fear into the hearts of even the strongest of us. For many teams, generating a compliance audit report entails poring through release log after release log and sitting through hours and hours of meetings to discuss findings and write reports. Once the team has finally completed the compliance report, what comes next? What else, another compliance report for the next release. It is a never-ending cycle and that will leave you struggling to keep up.
Wouldn’t it be great if your team could spend more time delivering software and less time on compliance? With impactful reporting, you easily gather all of the compliance data that you need automatically, greatly simplifying the audit process and freeing up your team’s time to focus on the most important tasks.
Lastly, once you've determined the components of your software delivery ecosystem that deliver value, you need to map them back to the business.
Value stream management is about enabling a team to improve efficiency through better data analytics, data visibility, and reporting. To effectively do this, VSM tools should give these teams a view into all aspects of their software supply chain, enabling them to reduce complexity and waste, improve collaboration, and provide a laser focus on work that delivers value to the customer and business.
To stay competitive, software development teams need to optimize the software delivery value stream. Value Stream Management helps organizations reduce waste and improve software delivery in support of business objectives. Let's take a look.
What are the Benefits?
- Improved release efficiency
- Quicker, easier debugging
- Reduced time and effort for compliance and governance
- Easily identified bottlenecks for continuous improvement
- Insight into the end-to-end release process
What are the Challenges?
- Disparate tools used throughout an organization make it difficult to link and analyze data in the context of the end-to-end release process.
- Increased efficiency leads to more releases and creates more data, making it more challenging to leverage.
- Certain tools used do not adhere to common standards (file formats and APIs).
- Data visualization is often not obvious nor meaningful.
- Data is missing or not exposed.
How Does XebiaLabs approach VSM?
The XebiaLabs DevOps Platform allows teams to standardize and automate their software delivery ecosystem, enabling them to measure results, reduce waste, and continuously align their release pipelines with the business. With XebiaLabs, you get:
- Visibility across the entire software delivery process.
- Extensive integration capabilities that cover the entire software supply chain from the ideation backlog through Production deployment.
- Built-in value stream reports and dashboards.
- A unified data model that enables analytics and intelligence across the entire value stream and incorporates advanced techniques (ML/AI).