The concept of value stream management (VSM) was introduced several years ago, with the primary adopters being DevOps leaders. Historically most business executives tended to view VSM as a long-term strategic initiative, rather than an urgent imperative.
That all changed when the pandemic hit. Traditionally risk-adverse business leaders started taking fast, bold actions to make their businesses digital. Functional teams’ focus shifted from running the business to transforming the business. VSM suddenly went from being an interesting concept to a matter of business survival.
Originally, the goal of VSM was to improve efficiency by identifying and eliminating waste. Today, the objective is shifting from efficiency to effectiveness. In addition, teams are looking to provide all stakeholders with end-to-end visibility — from planning to production. Rather than focusing on the flow of value, we believe that VSM needs to be concentrated on creating value. Moving from project management to digital product management is the best way to achieve this.
Digital Product Management
Digital Product Management is not just a fancier way of saying project management. Products must be defined by a set of measurable key results. This approach typically requires significant organizational and process transformation. Fundamentally, people need to rethink and redefine how they fund and how they execute.
For example, with Digital Product Management, funding is very matrixed. Functions like IT operations and capital for hardware and equipment still need investment. In addition, products also need to be funded, and this funding spans technology teams and domains. Consequently, reconciliation needs to happen in both a top-to-bottom and end-to-end fashion. Tracking top-down investments within a silo is fairly well understood, but tracking products along multiple dimensions, from funding to value delivery, is an entirely different prospect.
Teams need feedback loops that provide visibility into the operational value stream. They need insights into things like status, delivery, and incremental funding needs. Unless you have a well-defined model to follow, this is where things can become really challenging.
Agile at Scale
Digital product management and VSM can be especially difficult for very large organizations. Many of these businesses have embraced agile at scale and may be employing the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to align people and processes. This means executing these efforts:
- Defining products, product lines, and value streams.
- Organizing funding mechanisms and feedback loops.
- Handling all the hidden dependencies and considerable reconciliation that needs to occur.
The challenge is that these enterprises may have thousands of teams. In these organizations, the level of complexity and the volume of data that arise can be massive. Contending with this scale and complexity simply isn’t possible without having the right tools in place.
Over the past several months, VSM has emerged as a critical success factor. As teams continue to adapt to their quickly evolving imperatives, the importance of VSM will only increase, which means VSM is here to stay. To be successful, teams will need to leverage standard models that span VSM and digital product management, so they can effectively support both operational and delivery value streams.
At Broadcom, we’ve been focusing on helping enterprise teams harness the potential of VSM for some time now. Through our extensive engagement with many of our largest Clarity and Rally customers, we’ve defined a standard model for integrating these two products to specifically address the challenges and complexities associated with VSM and Digital Product Management.