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Insights from the VSM PulseMeter

May 16, 2023

The purpose of this article is to present the main findings of the recent PulseMeter poll on VSM conducted by TechStrong Research and Atlassian

You can also watch on-demand the webinar with Helen Beal, Jeff Keyes, and Mitch Ashley: Webinar “Accelerate Software Development Flow with Value Stream Management”.


At the end of this article, you will find a link to access the full PulseMeter report.


VSM is at an Early Adoption Stage in the Digital World

While VSM approaches have been around for decades, their application in IT services is still in its infancy.

The PulseMeter results confirm the findings of our last State of VSM Report 2022: VSM is at an early adoption stage for digital products and services with only 15% already seeing significant benefits.

The reasons for adopting a VSM approach are multiple, and aim both to do things better (flow efficiency) and to deliver more outcomes to customers (value realization, effectiveness).

The PulseMeter results confirm this duality inherited from the principles of Lean thinking with expected benefits of improving the flow of a value stream as a whole (23%), increasing customer value and outcomes (19%) while removing bottlenecks (17%) and waste (14%).


Lead and Align the Organization around Value Streams

Leaders of a VSM initiative must develop and share a long-term vision and foster continuous improvement of ways of working (see The VSM implementation roadmap).

To this end, the VSM journey is confronted with all kinds of challenges, starting with organizational and cultural issues. PulseMeter reports that the most important challenge is "Misaligned organizational responsibilities or structure" for 20% of the poll participants.


“Ultimately, the success of any VSM initiative depends on the organization’s willingness to change and break down the silos between product management, application development, data management, operations, and infrastructure groups.”


If we want a digital value stream that delivers a continuous flow of value to its customers and users, it is no longer possible to maintain the project mode that must struggle to coordinate contributions and dependencies between functional groups.

Optimizing the value stream requires cross-functional product teams aligned with the organization's strategy, objectives, and key results.


Integrate Tools and their Data all along Value Streams

DevOps toolchains are often considered exclusively from the perspective of CICD pipelines, which can already represent multiple tools to be integrated to automate the activities of development, testing, deployment, provisioning, security, etc.

The notion of a value stream is even broader than that of CICD pipelines and must cover the end-to-end chain, from the emergence of the idea to the delivery of value to its customers.

As a result, the wider range of tools to be connected as part of a VSM implementation accentuates the integration and data management issues, which are further discussed in the PulseMeter report to explain the second most important challenge: data integrity and consistency (18%).

Organizations can leverage a VSMP platform implementation to overcome silos, data challenges, and opinion-driven conversations, and gradually adopt a data-driven initiative.

The good news is that work is underway to address these issues with, for example, the creation of the OASIS Value Stream Management Interoperability (VSMI) Technical Committee or the emergence of Value Stream Architect roles within our companies.


Measure what Matters Most in each Situation

PulseMeter results show that organizations rely on different sources to determine which metrics to track. 

Questions during the webinar also illustrated a need for more guidance in identifying and defining which ones really matter in each context.

The challenges mentioned above regarding integration and data management issues should not block the initiative. Instead, it is crucial to start by measuring the baseline, the starting point from which to measure progress and communicate with leaders about the accomplishments, successes, or failures of our VSM initiative.

The first step is to align metrics with the objectives to be achieved or the problems to be solved. Customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal and must be the focus of our activities, such as Time To Value measurements rather than Time To Market. 

This can be done by using homegrown metrics or standard metrics while ensuring that the achievement of internal indicators does not become a goal in itself. Bryan Finster points out this exact pitfall in his article “How to Misuse & Abuse DORA Metrics” where he examines how DORA metrics - which represent a level of operational efficiency - can be abused.


Picture credits: Shutterstock

Patrice Corbard

Patrice Corbard

Patrice is VSMC's Head of Content Value Stream, and a Consultant, coach, and trainer in DevOps, Value Stream Management, and Agile. He's the founder of SD ReFocus, which applies VSM principles and practices to focus software delivery on customer value.

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