Value Stream Maps – the next stage for DevOps? - Image by Alex Hu from PixabayDefining and realising the ROI of digital transformation has never been more critical.

In 2018, nearly $1.3 trillion was spent on digital transformation globally. Of that, more than $900 billion is estimated to have gone to waste.

Part of digital transformation ROI comes from improving the way teams work. And with regards to enterprise software, this means improving how development teams work.

While the output, or the ‘what’ of the work that these development teams produce is clearly important, it is the method, or ‘how’ that work is accomplished, that typically holds the key for opportunities to drive business value faster.

This focus on process evolution has been the driver for the profound, often drastic changes and improvements that DevOps has brought about in a very short period.  However, DevOps itself is now evolving as software teams have begun to adopt software delivery value streams.

What is a value stream?

In a recent study of twelve Salesforce customers, analyst firm IDC found that two primary value drivers of the Salesforce platform were increasing the productivity of the application development team and optimizing the use of IT staff time and IT infrastructure.

Similarly, Gartner’s research has revealed that ”companies’ inability to measure and optimize the value of application development is directly tied to their lack of visibility into the flow of work.

While businesses think that they may “know” how to work together, the truth is that teams are often siloed, without visibility into processes, flow, and what is working versus what is breaking down.

Value streams illustrate the way teams work together to improve productivity and optimise resources to deliver value better.  A value stream maps represent the series of steps an organisation uses to provide a continuous flow of value.

The steps of that process are typically some version of planning, building, testing, deploying, and monitoring.  All these steps are needed to maximize value delivery in a systematic way. But, if the steps are not explicitly defined, visualized, and measured, it is difficult to know what a development team could improve at any stage.

Value stream maps reveal the small, yet impactful efficiencies that development teams can exploit to accelerate and improve processes. These improvements to the value stream enable dev teams to deliver value to end-users faster, thereby allowing the business to realize ROI sooner.

Why value streams are the next step for DevOps

Most teams that have adopted DevOps practices now face many questions when assessing the next steps to measure and improve their organisation’s processes. This is despite the fact that the development lifecycle produces huge amounts of data that could identify business process re-engineering opportunities and improve delivery speed and quality.

The issue is that this data is rarely surfaced in a clear way if it is surfaced at all. This is the critical gap that DevOps leaders need to fill to maximize potential ROI from digital transformation. And it is precisely where enterprises should start using value streams.

Many people talk about monitoring the development lifecycle as the last step in DevOps maturity. Still, the reality is that monitoring should be applied to every step of the DevOps lifecycle to gain visibility into all processes.  This means a business can gather data on what is working and what is not and adjust accordingly.

Historically, a value stream map has been an essential tool for an organisation wanting to plan, implement, and improve while on its lean journey. The DevOps community is increasingly promoting value stream maps of a Salesforce delivery process to help unlock opportunities to drive more value.

Businesses can track each phase of the delivery process: plan, build, test, deliver, and monitor. Each metric represents an opportunity for incremental improvements in time to value and ROI.

How it looks in detail

DevOps metrics such as change failure rate, the mean time to restore, lead times, and deployment frequency can be tracked at every stage of the process. Changes in these numbers over time help indicate stages of the development process that need further scrutiny. This granular information is crucial for having a holistic view of where components of the roadmap stand in the development lifecycle.  It also assists reporting on value creation of the development team.

Value stream maps illustrate process breakdowns such as bottlenecks that prevent the team from delivering value in a reasonable time frame.  This may be seen in excess waiting time; or when, where, and how far back in the process work is being sent back.

Realistically, a business cannot make improvements across all these indicators at once. Value stream optimization starts with the smaller pieces, and businesses typically see that multiple areas will benefit if they target one metric at a time.

These examples show that visibility is not just about tracking metrics to see incremental improvement in them over time. It is about uncovering which processes are working and which are not in a development lifecycle.

In turn, these metrics help highlight where to apply or refine DevOps practices to optimize a team’s work output and the way they work to deliver value faster.

This is a virtuous feedback loop that resembles a DevOps mindset: watch the data to understand which process to optimize, adjust the process, watch how the data changes, rinse, and repeat.

As teams practice this process of end-to-end optimization over time, they become more efficient, building and delivering with higher quality at faster speeds. Copado is an end-to-end data-driven DevOps platform with integrated value stream management functionality. This is the core of continual, ongoing digital transformation that delivers ROI.

Copado logoCopado is the leading DevOps platform enabling the world’s largest digital transformations on Salesforce. Copado accelerates Salesforce deployments, simplifies the release process, increases developer productivity and maximizes return on cloud investments. Copado DevOps 360™ includes Agile Planning, Continuous Delivery, Automated Testing and Compliance. Backed by Insight Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures, more than 500 of the world’s largest digitally transformed companies run on Copado including Boston Scientific, Coca-Cola, Fair Trade, Linde, MassMutual, Schneider Electric and Shell. Copado processes over 50 million DevOps transactions per month and is rated with a 100% score on the Salesforce AppExchange.


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