One of the most important things to remember when evaluating a current state value stream is to get into full observation mode without jumping into problem solving mode at the first sign on an issue. Taking a full look at how the flow goes is key in effectively identifying all the problem points and be able to understand how each one affects the each of the other problems and the overall outcome of a project. This task is also do be done by a team of leads each representing their respective teams, along with individual contributors whose participation is essential in the success of an entire project.

What is a value stream?

A value stream is a visual work map that indicates the steps and the gaps in between each of it, from start to finish. It is a visual representation of the work involved in a project, from idea to finished product, with the ultimate goal of delivering value to the customer. Each step represents the value it contributes in the development of the finished product. Thus, we can say that it is a breakdown of the entire work into small scalable steps that reflect its purpose and value in the process of creating a product that is built with the customer in mind, by considering the value they can get from using the product and how they can benefit from it.

What is the purpose of a value stream?

Fundamentally, what a value stream does is to help teams analyse whether a step in the work flow brings value to the customers or not, and whether these steps can be improved to add value to the work that they do or otherwise. The steps that don’t add value from the customer’s standpoint are either changed or removed form the stream. These are known as unnecessary waste.

On the other hand, steps that add no value from the customer’s standpoint, but does so for the development of the product is known as necessary waste. An example of this would be product testing. The customer doesn’t directly benefit from it, but testing helps developers catch any error in their work before it reaches production. By running tests at certain points of the build, developers can produce a better and more reliable product. It may have taken more time to complete the project and the customer will have waited a tad longer than if there were less tests conducted, but the more testing is conducted during the build, the better the product will perform once the customer starts using it. That’s what testing is for; to deliver a product with quality and reliability that customers will be happy to use and pay for.

What are the types of value streams in Software Development?

There are two types of value stream in Software Development: operational value stream and development value stream.

Operational value stream represents the flow of work in teams that deliver value to the customer. In organisations that deliver software as a product or service, this value stream is applicable to the front end and customer facing teams, including support.

Development value stream, on the other hand, represents the flow of work in teams that build the products that front end teams deliver to the customers. These are the teams and individuals that make up the IT team: engineers, designers, developers, testers, quality, including monitoring teams.

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