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VSM and Industry Frameworks: TOGAF

July 10, 2023

In this post, our fourth in a series where we’ll investigate the treatment of value stream management (VSM) in the context of industry frameworks, Stephen Walters has a look at The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF v10). 


TOGAF® has been in existence since 1995 when v1.0 was first published, but the concept of value streams was not introduced until v9 in 2009, and even then only as the concept of stakeholder value. It is in later revisions of v9 that Value Stream Mapping is introduced as a concept of Business Architecture. However, in April 2022, The Open Group announced the launch of version 10 which includes an entire guide around Value Streams. This post will look at the 10th edition alone.


TOGAF ADM and the VSM Implementation Roadmap

A key thing to state here is that value stream management as a discipline is not clearly stated as a function in TOGAF®, that being because of the TOGAF® ADM. The ADM, or Architecture Development Method, is a logical approach to developing knowledge using ‘phases’ to identify key activities with information inputs and outputs required to develop an Enterprise Architecture. In itself, it is comparable to the VSM Implementation Roadmap.

For example, Phase A is the Architecture Vision, which is comparable to the Vision step in the roadmap. However, not all stages and phases are as easily comparable. Within the TOGAF Value Streams Guide, value streams are initially defined by the type of analysis that can be performed. The guide speaks of: “value chains” taking an economic perspective; “value networks” identifying participants involved; and “lean value streams” for optimizing business processes. The guide then explains the concept of the “Business Architecture value stream” creating an end-to-end perspective of value for a customer, or stakeholders, perspective, a commonality to the Value Stream Management Consortium view. However, this is separated from the other financial, organizational, and operational models mentioned earlier which is a deviation.


TOGAF Value Stream Definition

There are a few key points to recognize about the TOGAF® definition of a value stream. Like all things in TOGAF®, this is not done in a simple way, principally because it needs to be tied into existing TOGAF® definitions. The initial premise is to define the value analysis as being derived from James Martin’s, The Great Transition. It defines the value stream as an end-to-end collection of value stream “stages” that have a relationship with business capability (what is done), who does it (the organization), and how it is done at an operational level (the process). The value stream is defined as merely how value is achieved, although at both a business and technological level.

Within the Value Stream Implementation Roadmap, we have clearly defined requirements to ‘identify’ (business capability), ‘organize’ (the organization), and map (the process), although mapping goes further to integrate all of those elements together. This is indicative of The Open Group seeing value stream management, not as a distinct activity, but as part of the TOGAF® Standard.


TOGAF Value Stream Mapping

This is demonstrated further as Value Stream Mapping is defined as part of a broader Business Architecture Initiative. However, the exercise of mapping is defined as a prescriptive exercise, setting a description (name, description, stakeholder, and value); decomposition into stages comprised of their own elements (name, description, stakeholders, value item, entrance, and exit criteria); and mapped to business capabilities required to enable the value stream.

The view, therefore, of a value stream map in TOGAF® is a process definition without the links to organization, metrics, and lean principles. This approach can be more understood when understanding that this is done from an architectural perspective.


Value Stream Creation

The final observation is the guiding principles that TOGAF® lays down for creating value streams with 4 key rules:

  1. A clearly defined triggering stakeholder - this is reflective of recently emerging roles such as a Value Stream Lead and/or a Chief Value Officer
  2. Start with external value streams - there is once more a conflict here. Although there is a commonality in being customer-focused, there is also a view to Customer Journeys being viewed as value streams, a subject discussed by Steve Pereira in the blog Is a Customer Journey a Value Stream?. An example given being “Acquire Retail Product”
  3. Value Streams are not capabilities - which is a true statement and does go on to clarify the relationship and dependencies between the two
  4. Keep it concise - In other words, don’t get bogged down in the minutiae of detail for each and every task


In Conclusion

There are many commonalities and supporting benefits between VSM and TOGAF®:

  1. It’s about business value for the customer, or stakeholder
  2. It’s about value add activity
  3. Vision, mapping, and analysis are important to managing value streams
  4. It’s NOT about the detail and all about keeping it simple


However, there are also differentiators:

  1. The concept of value “Stages” vs continuous flow
  2. Inclusion of organization, metrics, and lean engineering


TOGAF® has come under criticism by many for being siloed, overly complex, and trying to be all things to all men, creating both vagueness and restriction, in opposition to the rise of the agile movement. Back in 2015, I wrote an article entitled “Agile Architecture - The Many GHz Crystal Ball” as I could see a drift occurring between TOGAF practices and agile/DevOps practices.

However, the move to integrate value streams into TOGAF® standards and marrying those with the concepts of Value Stream Management can allow organizations to create a constructive approach to enterprise architecture. Indeed, the need to include Enterprise Architecture as a discipline of designing value streams has many merits, as discussed in a recent VSM Times article by Serge Lucio.

Myself and Dr Craig Statham from SAS Institute recently wrote an article on Value Stream Reference Architecture for the very reason that there seemed to be an apparent gap in how value streams are identified, organized, and analyzed, considering aspects such as Conway’s Law, and much of this has been influenced by our architectural backgrounds.

So although TOGAF® and Value Stream Management may seem strange bedfellows, it would seem that there is much that each could take from the other, and maybe Enterprise Architecture and TOGAF® are heading for a reprise.

If there is another framework you'd like to see covered, feel free to suggest it in the comments.

On the same subject, don't hesitate to consult our previous posts in this series:

TOGAF® is a registered trademark of The Open Group

Picture Credits: Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Stephen Walters

Stephen Walters

Stephen has been in the IT industry for over 30 years and is an extensively experienced Subject Matter Expert in Value Stream Management, DevSecOps, DevOps, Agile, and various other SDLC methodologies. Currently also operating as an Ambassador for the DevOps Institute and an Influencer in the Value Stream Management Consortium, he has an interest in all things DevOps. Certified in Value Stream Management, DevOps, SAFe, CMMI, ITIL, TOGAF, and Prince2, Stephen is currently implementing leading-edge thinking into Value Stream Management at GitLab to enhance the complete DevOps experience, including recently as co-author on a thought leadership paper, Value Stream Reference Architecture.

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