A CIO’s responsibilities include managing the synergy between people, process, and technology and ensuring that the organization’s IT supports its larger goals. However, IT is only part of the organization as a whole. Who uses the technology, how they use it, and even the choices behind which technology to use are all part of a larger value stream that is delivered to the end customer.
CIOs therefore have an integral, but not unique, role to play in the value stream mapping process. It is therefore important to understand how to build a VSM, how it benefits production processes, and some considerations before you begin.
What is Value Stream Mapping?
Value stream mapping (VSM) is a process of visualizing the people, processes, sites and equipment involved in the steps of a production process. The concept of VSM derives from the lean manufacturing methodology. Lean principles aim to maximize value for the customer and reduce or even eliminate inefficiencies in the production process. Despite its roots in the manufacturing context, value stream mapping has found wide application in a number of environments:
- Health care
- Project management
- Supply Chain
See how DevOps uses Value Stream Mapping on Enterprise Networking Planet: Copado: a DevOps value chain is forged by visibility
Value stream mapping provides an overview of the entire production process from start to finish, whether it is a physical product or software. Thanks to this high-level visibility into the production process, VSM makes it possible to identify and eliminate waste at its source. Waste in the CI/CD process, for example, is not so much related to materials as to time and information flows, such as idle or non-coding time.
The products or services rendered must create as much value as possible for the customer. However, as a product or service develops or changes, the challenge is to add more value to the end user without sacrificing the efficiency of the production process. VSM is therefore a means of analyzing and improving processes.
Examples of VSM
Developing a value stream map takes time. Since no production process takes place in a vacuum, a value stream map typically includes multiple layers to account for the different production stakeholders, including but not limited to:
- The partners
- Facility locations
- Cross-functional teams
By getting a bird’s-eye view of how all parts and people work together, VSM provides opportunities to optimize the production process by visualizing bottlenecks, duplicates, weak points and other causes. of inefficiency.
Value stream mapping can be done in a rudimentary way, like on a whiteboard or a piece of paper. While these are good starting points, eventually you’ll want to upgrade to a software tool. Considering the complexity of creating a value stream map, fortunately there are templates and software tools to help you, such as Lucidchart or Edraw.
The software solutions contain the common framework of symbols used in value stream mapping. Symbols are grouped into different categories to indicate:
- General symbols, such as orders, warehouse and transport
- Information flow
- Material flow
Symbols are often connected by lines or arrows to indicate flow direction(s).
How to Create a Value Stream Map
To help CIOs, DevOps, or operations management successfully develop a value stream map, we’ve compiled a list of steps to follow.
- Identify the problem child. What product or service needs improvement? Perhaps a particular product has had frequent customer complaints or above-average returns or cancellations. It’s a good product or service to start with.
- Get membership at the top. To grab executives’ attention and get their approval for a VSM project, draw attention to an emerging problem, quantify its effects, and propose a plan to solve it.
- Prime the people involved. Hire a value stream manager or train at least the C suite in value stream mapping.
- Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Work backwards by starting with the product or service from the customer’s perspective. This reveals opportunities for improvement but requires data from customer service (for complaints), logistics (for returns) and sales (for order or subscription cancellations).
- Start drawing. Always in reverse, map the processes and information flows involved in the delivery of the product or service. Information flows for a software company, for example, would describe when and how the code for a software update is developed, validated, tested, and deployed. Mapping should be based on documentation and other forms of evidence rather than interviews or anecdotal evidence. Repeat this step several times, as you will collect more information each time you pass the activity chain.
- Find the value creators versus the suckers. Evaluate each step of the process on whether it adds or subtracts value for the customer at the end. Like step 4, this part of the process also requires data regarding output, time, and other measurements.
- Idea of a better way. The final step requires creativity, imagination, and most importantly, a problem-solving mindset to craft a future state value stream map. The Future State Value Stream Map is essentially a roadmap of goals to achieve a more efficient production process based on the results of Steps 5 and 6.
Benefits of Value Stream Mapping
The advantages of value stream mapping outweigh the disadvantages. Among many advantages, VSM:
- Reduce or eliminate waste, increasing productivity and profits
- Centralizes and adds value for the customer, thereby increasing satisfaction and loyalty
- Fosters a culture of transparency and mindfulness around efficiency
- Bring disparate teams together to break down silos
- Helps teams and employees see the value their role adds to the business
VSM improves organization from the inside out; it’s not just the customer who benefits.
Also read on eWeek UK: Remove friction from silos to smooth the DevOps journey
Disadvantages of Value Stream Mapping
Before embarking on value stream mapping, make sure your organization is ready to reap the benefits.
Value stream mapping is complex and therefore time-consuming. Without the right people involved, like a value stream manager or those who have received VSM training, and proper planning, guidance, and execution, VSM can be a waste of time and resources.
Looking at the value chain is also likely to create fear or mistrust among those directly involved in creating a product or service. A value stream map can reveal a better way to deploy software updates that require a significant overhaul of current workflows.
VSM can also shed light on understaffed sections of the production process, driving changes in who is working where in the value stream. When management puts processes under the microscope, employees may resist big changes or worry about their jobs.
Ongoing communication will therefore be crucial to maintain trust and understanding. Value stream mapping, after all, is not about determining which employees to keep or let go. Rather, it is about analyzing and optimizing workflows. Focus on and demonstrate a commitment to training and developing employees to help them do their jobs better.
VSM is worth it
Virtually every business today depends on technology. Within companies, CIOs should participate in, and even lead, value stream mapping projects to see where IT is failing to support organizational goals and deliver value to the customer.
Value stream mapping is a visualization process that identifies and eliminates sources of waste from code development to review to deployment. VSM also works additively to help identify and pursue activities or processes that add value to the final product.
For CIOs, VSM helps them find and resolve inefficiencies in the use, management, or production of technology. VSM also promotes greater collaboration between development and operations to continually improve the product and satisfy customers.