Optimize for flow of value

Value Streams

A value stream is the primary construct for understanding, organizing, and delivering value, each value stream is a long-lived series of steps used to create value—from concept to the delivery of a tangible result for the customer. Like any well-constructed narrative, the Value Stream identifies a chronological flow of activities through the system.

Trigger – Some important event triggers the flow of value, perhaps a customer purchase order or new feature request. It ends when some value—a shipment, customer purchase, or solution deployment—has been delivered. 

Steps – The steps the enterprise uses to accomplish this feat.

People and systems – A value stream also contains the people who do the work, the systems they operate, and the flow of information and materials.

Lead time – The time from the trigger to the delivery of value is the lead time. Shortening the lead time reduces the time to market.  The easiest way to shorten lead time is to identify and reduce (or remove) non-value added activities and wasteful delays. That’s the primary focus of Lean thinking.

Identify Business Value Streams 

Business Value Streams focus on the customer's perspective, and their engagement with your product or service. They always begin with what's called the Customer trigger - how does the customer become aware they want to enter a business relationship with your company? Whether it's through advertising, marketing or another means, the customer decides they want to partake in your product or service which leads to a flow that looks something like this:

The example above is a genericized view of a credit card product. Any new card product that's produced by that company would fit into the "Card Value Stream." Most financial companies have many different types of products (banking, personal loan, mortgage, etc.) which would have their own value stream flows. Understanding your Business Value Streams can help in the creation of reusable capabilities across products, and move funding from projects to value streams greatly increasing efficiency and predictability.

Map Development Value Streams

Development Value Streams are how and where the work actually happens. Every effort to build or maintain products has a logical start point (which team lays down the first snippet of code, or brick, or whatever you're building), and flows through different teams, technology areas, sometimes even different organizations and arrives at the end as a shiny new product or feature to deliver to your customers. The entirety of this flow is frequently a mystery to all involved, they are aware of the steps immediately before and after their involvement, but if you asked anyone what the entire flow looked like, they would be unlikely to be able to map it out on their own. 

Taking the time to map the Development Value Stream is a critical piece to getting value to market sooner, as there are hidden wastes in the flow of value that become apparent once they are all mapped out. The efficiency of most Development Value Streams in large organizations is between 10% and 20% leaving a lot of room for improvement.

We Can Help

The coaches at Integral Agile are experts on mapping out systems and analyzing the root causes of what might be blocking or inhibiting the flow of value to your customers. The mapping of value streams can be a fast exercise if the right people are present, often taking no more than a few days. Contact us if you'd like to get the full picture of how value is flowing in your organization.