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What is Value Stream Management?

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By: Code Climate
March 27, 2023

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Delivering software is a complex and often fragmented process, requiring countless dependencies, tools, and teams. A value stream management (VSM) solution aims to bring order to that chaos, mapping the process of delivery from idea to market.

Engineering leaders who oversee product roadmaps, operations, and the development of applications, can benefit from investing in value stream management.

What is value stream management?

Value stream management is the practice of tracking the efficiency, cost, and speed of an organization’s software delivery. As organizations focus on delivering even more value to customers, many are adopting value stream management tools to fully optimize their processes from end to end.

Value stream management provides layers of visibility into the DevOps pipeline and helps improve the flow of software delivery to ensure that maximum value is being delivered to customers.

What is a value stream management platform?

Value stream management platforms (VSMPs) are tools that assist software organizations in managing their DevOps processes. These platforms pull data from your existing tools and create visualizations so that software engineering leaders can gather sophisticated insights about their organization’s software delivery processes.

VSMPs surface engineering metrics and analytics related to the delivery processes, such as allocation of resources, progress towards key goals, and granular insight into software development lifecycle (SDLC) stages, to help engineering leaders spot potential bottlenecks or issues.

What does a value stream management platform do?

Companies can use VSMPs to understand their progress towards delivery commitments, the overall efficiency of their engineering processes, and the impact of their allocation of time and resources.

VSMPs help engineering leaders and teams align engineering activities with business objectives, ultimately helping to strengthen business outcomes.

How do value stream management platforms work?

VSMPs connect to other software development tools to surface software delivery data all in one place, allowing engineering leaders to identify where their teams can improve processes.

Value stream management can help leaders answer specific questions about their processes and delivery, such as:

  • Are they spending the right amount of time and resources on specific products and features? VSMPs can illustrate where developers or teams are spending their time, giving leaders detailed visibility into how resources are distributed, and allowing them to investigate whether processes need to be altered, improved, or even scaled and applied across the organization.

  • Are engineering and business OKRs aligned? Engineering metrics and business metrics should be complementary, but if they are siloed, it can be difficult to see how they affect one another. If organizations use a VSMP, it’s easier to visualize business and engineering alignment by surfacing software delivery alongside product roadmaps, for example.

  • Are teams meeting their delivery goals? By setting targets within a VSMP, engineering teams can better track progress towards meeting delivery deadlines.

  • Are their processes efficient? With a comprehensive tool that offers insight into every part of the SDLC, engineering leaders can drill down into units of work and understand how long certain processes, like code review or deploys, are taking, and make adjustments if necessary.

  • Are their opportunities to automate best practices? Rules for automation can be built into the value stream to free up engineering resources. Automation of specific tasks can minimize risk, enforce quality, and speed up software delivery.

  • Is process data being captured and normalized? VSMPs integrate with existing SDLC tools in order to capture DORA metrics, flow metrics, and lean metrics like process and wait time. With actual process data, teams can optimize processes and increase the rate of innovation.

  • Are customers satisfied with the product? VSMPs can help leaders foster a culture of continuous delivery, so that new features or updates can be delivered to customers more quickly, allowing organizations to get feedback on their products more often.

What are value stream metrics?

Value stream metrics incorporate data for an organization’s entire software development life cycle (SDLC) process. They include:

Business metrics: These track performance and customer satisfaction, and can include ROI, indicators of product value, and product quality.

Product delivery metrics: These measure indicators of product development and can include productivity metrics like DORA metrics and efficiency and flow metrics.

Technical metrics: These metrics assess your code quality, delivery speed, refactoring, and technical debt.

Reliability metrics: These help measure the digital experience of your customers, and can include service-level objectives (SLOs) and Mean Time to Recovery from incidents.

Code Climate Velocity adds value to the value stream

A Software Engineering Intelligence (SEI) platform like Velocity offers solutions that overlap with the capabilities of a value stream management platform. SEI platforms offer end-to-end insight into the SDLC by allowing engineering teams to track and improve efficiency, resource allocation, and speed of software delivery. Additionally, like value stream management platforms, SEI platforms can help leaders communicate the business impact of engineering to non-technical stakeholders.

As an SEI platform, Velocity offers additional insights outside the bounds of value stream management. Velocity gives leaders a more holistic view of the software delivery process, including team health and performance. We encourage engineering leaders to look not only at the SDLC, but to also focus on the teams that make it run. Spending time on identifying factors that could affect engineers’ experience is critical to business success. 

To learn more about the actionable insights provided by Code Climate Velocity, speak with a product specialist.

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