The hallmark of most value stream management tools is that they connect all your disjointed DevOps data in one place so you can get a clear picture of key metrics and teams’ performance across the pipeline. But this level of visibility can seem daunting or even unwelcome, with some likening VSM to a “Big Brother” kind of tool. Value stream management is NOT a way for managers to spy on developers, and, when done right, it’s not just a data dashboard. VSM is a powerful way to improve organizational culture, align teams, and foster collaboration.
One of the toughest areas of communication is between business and IT groups. It can feel like these departments speak different languages. Business groups set goals and measure success in terms of budget, headcount, and sales. IT groups do that with lead time, cycle time, and throughput. When data across the software delivery pipeline is big and visible, communication across these teams becomes easier because everyone is looking at the same data. Business leads can more effectively manage expectations when they can track key performance indicators from development teams. IT leads can better prioritize work when they can track progress toward business goals. When data is aggregated and transparent, communication becomes easier.
Relate work to goals
Work is easier and more meaningful when you know why you’re doing it. The visibility and transparency from VSM gives individual contributors across the SDLC that “why” by making goals and progress towards those goals clear. From organizational-wide goals (improve our customer satisfaction rating by 5 points) to team-level goals (reduce security incidents by 5%), a solid value stream management tool can create greater awareness and responsibility of these goals by tying work items directly to their progress.
Get information faster
So many factors can prevent us from getting the information we need from teammates when we need it. Time zones, vacations, workload, communication styles are just a few. Value stream management does away with tedious questions like “what stage is this work item in?” or “how long until that bug is fixed?” and eliminates the time you spend waiting for those answers. When all your work is tracked in a value stream management tool, individuals can focus on goal-driven work instead of reporting and status updates.
Develop a data-driven culture
The biggest benefit of the data visibility that VSM provides is the cultural shift. Instead of making decisions based on hunches, you can rely on data to guide strategy and allocate resources. Instead of blindly blaming other teams for poor performance, you can look at data across teams to see where bottlenecks exist, how processes can improve, and which groups need more support. Instead of just hoping management accepts your request for more headcount, a process change, or a new tool, you can use data to make your case and prove the need for change. When data is shared across teams, it becomes baked into your organization’s way of working. Decisions become easier, individuals become more empathetic, and collaboration becomes stronger.
Only good can come from increased transparency and visibility. It’s just one of the many ways that value stream management promotes a stronger, more collaborative organization.
Brian Muskoff is head of product at HCL Software. He leads product teams to create software solutions that help large enterprises safely streamline the flow of change through the delivery pipeline. His career experiences span two decades and run the spectrum from start-ups to the Fortune 50 in the roles of COO, Engineering Head and Product Portfolio Leader. His roots in the DevOps space trace back to the UrbanCode product line, the CICD market-creating start-up that was acquired by IBM and is now engineered by HCL Software. He holds an MBA from Case Western Reserve University and a BSISE from Ohio University.