organizations have invested heavily or are considering investing in the Scaled
Agile Framework (SAFe®) to improve their enterprise
software delivery, where complex product work spans dozens of Agile development
that have made strong strides down the SAFe
Journey have trained and certified their teams,
hired internal coaches, adopted new tools, and implemented new processes.
factor that prevents many enterprises from reaching their Agility goals is organizational silos. While using particular Agile
frameworks can optimize processes and increase the
agility of an individual team, value is rarely delivered within a single
team—in fact, value is most commonly delivered across many, cross-functional
teams. While some silos are necessary to maintain efficient, streamlined work,
they can also impact communication between teams, making it difficult for the
business to pivot as markets shift, work ethics, or calamities like how the
pandemic got teams to work from home. Organizations that had implemented SAFe worked
smoothly unlike many that had to close down.
In business, organizational
Silos refer to business divisions
that operate independently and avoid sharing information. It also refers to
businesses whose departments have silo’ system applications, in which
information cannot be shared because of system limitations.
Now knowing what Silo is in
an organization let’s look at the silo mentality, how this affects an
organization’s operations, and how business agility helps fill in the gap.
A Silo mentality is a
reluctance to share information with employees of different divisions in the
same company. This attitude is seen as reducing the organization’s efficiency
and, at worst, contributing to a damaged corporate culture.
mentality is an unwillingness to share information or knowledge between
employees or across different departments within a company.
mentality usually begins with competition among senior managers.
firms encourage and facilitate a free flow of information.
create low morale, negatively impact workflows, and ultimately adversely affect
the customer experience.
What is Business Agility?
Business Agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally enabled business solutions.
With an understanding of the Silo Mentality and Business Agility let’s have a look at how business agility ends the Silo mentality and Improves the value stream in an organization.
Ultimately, the goal is to create content and experiences that appeal to the hearts and minds of your customers. You must build systems that facilitate teamwork so that your organization is agile, enabling you to connect with your users. SAFe helps organizations to adapt to changes in the market and deliver business value to customers and the marketplace.
What is value stream management?
Let’s start by defining and delineating value streams, value stream mapping, and value stream management.
● A value stream is the sequence of activities a team or organization takes to deliver value to a customer or respond to a customer’s need.
● Value stream mapping is a process that determines, illustrates, analyzes, and improves the steps required to deliver a product or service to customers. A value stream map can also reveal delays, inefficiencies, and wasteful steps in any process—arguably the most important principle of the Lean philosophy.
● Value stream management is a systematic approach that focuses on increasing the flow of business value from customer request to customer value with the goal of shortening time-to-market, increasing throughput, improving product quality, and optimizing for business outcomes.
Value streams help create a culture of continuous improvement and enable teams to respond more quickly to shifting customer requirements without disruptive reshufflings or slowdowns-term success
Business Agility Value Stream SAFe defines Business Agility as the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally enabled business solutions. By implementing SAFe, enterprises inherently develop the Lean, Agile, and DevOps capabilities that enable incremental delivery at scale through the entire ‘Business Agile Value Stream’ (BAVS), from sensing an emerging opportunity to delivering the right solution. Traditional approaches using phase-gate and waterfall delivery are simply too slow for the challenge.
When it comes to business success and longevity, the quickest way to dilute the value you deliver to customers is to focus on too many things.
Value Stream Management helps leaders focus on the most important path and ways to continuously improve that system of delivery. This includes the identification of waste in the system and places where the flow may need to change for regulatory reasons or at the request of customers.
Value stream management benefits organizations by:
Accelerating time to value: When you focus on improving the system and full value stream instead of driving functional efficiency in individual silos, you naturally accelerate time to value. In fact, simply bringing your organization on a journey of discovering and managing your value streams will help individuals and leaders more effectively tie the work they do to the end result.
Aligning cross-functional teams: Value stream management can help you identify how to create a better flow around critical handoff points—and also reduce unnecessary handoffs that slow down time to value.
Clearly measuring system performance: With a clear understanding of an organization’s value streams, the work of senior leadership can become more transparent in the flow of value, and the steps to get there, are defined and aligned against key performance indicators and more Effectively measure system performance. This data can be used to inform strategic decisions, such as where to allocate resources or improvements to prioritize.
Data-driven Investments: When organizations map their value streams for the first time, they often discover that current budget allocations don’t properly support the end-to-end flow of value to customers. Instead of funding individual projects, allocate your budget to value streams. This strategy makes it easier to adapt to changing customer needs and supports self-organizing teams that are aligned on delivering maximum customer value.
Eliminating waste and improving effectiveness: Value streams also help eliminate many different types of waste across any project lifecycle, including time spent on unnecessary work, handoffs, defects and delays, overproduction of extra features, in-project context-switching, and unnecessary post-project learning maps.
What are the Common pitfalls in Value Stream management?
● Processing time versus Lead Time.
● Takt time.
● Little’s Law.
● Make to order versus Make to stock.
● Throughput and capacity.
● Push system versus Pull system.
Building a Value stream is an opportunity to identify misaligned priorities, uncover inefficiencies, and understand customer needs a process that may upset a business’s status and how leaders understand their business.
Discovering your existing value streams and embracing agility will do something many leaders consider to be inherently dangerous: It will shine a light on existing problems. Although it’s intimidating (and potentially uncomfortable) to face the problems that value streams uncover, leaders with a growth mindset can embrace their discoveries with courage—and use the findings as fuel for continuous improvement.
Though value stream identification and management itself is simple, it often illuminates very complex challenges. The challenge comes in the resolution, not the identification, of the problem—whether it’s because the solution is actually challenging, or stubbornness gets in the way of change.
While there is increased pressure to bring products to market quickly and efficiently, the right metrics can help you stay focused on what matters most. Value stream thinking requires an unerring focus on the flow of value to the customer without compromising performance.
Once you’ve mapped out a value stream, there are a few ways to measure and optimize workflows:
Flow metrics indicate the rate of value delivery in relation to desired business outcomes. These metrics are calculated based on units of work that matter to the business, including features, defects, debt, and risk.
● Flow time
● Flow load
● Flow efficiency
● Flow distribution
Teams can take simple steps based on where they are today to start building a culture of continuous improvement and increasing agility in their organization. Through effective implementation of VSM, development leaders can establish portfolios, programs, and cross-functional teams that are better aligned with business objectives. In the process, they can make better funding decisions, help their teams execute more efficiently, and scale their agile implementations.
The following sections outline the key steps leaders can take to successfully make the move to Value Stream Mapping (VSM).
Successful implementation of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) starts with defining value streams. In for example a software organization, a value stream may be comprised of products, teams, and tools. These definitions need to be based on a solid understanding of how your organization creates and delivers value, from when an initial investment idea arises to when customers receive value. This is a critical starting point and a vital effort to get right as it sets the foundation for planning, funding, and determining objectives and key results.
Align with the business
A Value Stream Mapping (VSM)platform ensures that business strategies can more easily be aligned with the actual delivery of work efforts. This starts with negotiations between leaders of business and delivery organizations, who have different incentives. For the business, it’s all about innovation and returns on investment in new products, services, features, and so on. For development, it’s about keeping the lights on with the least amount of time and money — all while meeting business demands. Through this negotiation, teams can gain buy-in and alignment, and outcomes can be defined for teams accordingly.
Rally your teams
In order to make agile development as scalable as possible, it is vital to enable teams to have visibility into common goals, while giving each team the flexibility to work with their preferred tools and methodologies. VSM ensures that no matter what is in the toolchain, teams can aggregate all data and metrics. This enables insights based on a single source of truth — so all value stream participants and stakeholders can always understand what they need to deliver and how their work contributes to value delivery.
Teams need to determine the optimal way to get work done and then execute it effectively. Now more than ever, this means providing transparency and visibility, which is essential in reducing friction and increasing trust. By having one source of truth, teams can more effectively adapt to shifts in business strategy or other changes, without having an adverse impact on other work.
Delivery leaders need to work with their teams to measure success and iterate, so future work is more efficient and effective. Note It is essential to empower teams to gain access to meaningful data so they can observe challenges and gain insights for continuous improvement. It is also very vital to communicate results and learnings throughout the business and to amplify success across teams.
Let’s now look at the steps needed to optimize Value Stream
How to Optimize Value Stream Management for Agile and Development
Value Stream Mapping is to critically address every step in the manufacturing process, identify wasted labor, time or materials and reduce or eliminate their impact on the process. Here are steps you can follow to improve virtually any manufacturing process.
- Record/ Document the current process. Be certain not to skip anything or take an activity for granted. You need to look upstream and downstream as well as the machining cycle, itself.
- Identify and Brainstorm Your value streams. What is the first step? Is it when you get the order from the customer? When you receive the part print? What is the last step? When shipped from your dock? When the customer receives it? Start with the earliest possible stage of the process and end with the point at which the customer is completely satisfied.
- Identify and choose a value stream to map. Once you’ve listed every step in the process, look at each step critically to determine which adds value to the customer and which does not. Avoid getting caught up in every little task—instead, focus on a level that makes sense to how you describe your business. Starting at a high level will make it easier to identify areas that are running smoothly and efficiently, as well as areas that could be improved.
- Define what the perfect process looks like and who is in charge of what. If you could eliminate every bit of waste and deliver a product that has 100% value, what would that process look like? In this step, don’t encumber your thinking with practical concerns. It’s not likely you will ever be able to achieve the perfect process, but you need to visualize what it would look like if you could. On your map, record which individuals or teams are responsible for each step in order to help cross-functional teams understand their roles and accountabilities in quickly delivering value.
- Identify those parts of the current process that get in the way of the perfection track and analyze. Use data to reflect on your value stream map to identify things you may not have noticed or anticipated before you started the value stream management process. Given the reality of your situation, how close can you come to the perfect state? How many of the steps that add no value to the customer can you improve? Can your machine control system use that file to simplify part programming?
- Identify major initiatives to reduce or eliminate waste. Perhaps you need to upgrade to a machine tool that has greater capabilities and a more sophisticated controller. Or you may consider automating certain functions with robotics, pallet systems, or other equipment. Naturally, you’ll need to develop a cost/benefit analysis for any significant investment.
- Get the right people in the room, Assign tasks and responsibilities. Both leaders and practitioners should be a part of this process. Align with the leaders who own activities related to that product or service and get them committed to collaborating on the study and supporting improvements. Once you’ve determined the needed initiatives you must develop a plan for identifying viable resources, considering your options, making final decisions, and implementing the plan steps.
Create and carry out a consistent, repeatable implementation plan to set yourself on the path to continuous improvement. Be specific with your action items to ensure follow-through. This means identifying who is responsible for implementing the change, when it will be implemented, and what success criteria and measurements you’ll use to gauge effectiveness.
Through effective implementation of VSM tools and principles, teams can build true enterprise-scale value streams that enhance innovation, optimally balance resources, and fuel dramatic improvements in delivery.
Try mapping your value stream in reverse, from the end product or customer experience to its origins. Many veteran VSM practitioners work in reverse, as some points of friction can become more clear and more meaningful from this perspective.
Increasing the knowledge across teams is a continuous effort. Make yourself available for questions and feedback, but also be proactive. Attend the next portfolio or training meeting to discuss a specific VSM area.
As you move closer to VSM, another suggestion is to develop methods of evaluating your maturity. This entails providing feedback on your experiments, whether it’s positive or negative. Make the results available to all, so they can apply the lessons to the next Project.
Let us know if this article was helpful.
Join our Meet up community Singapore Scaled Agile Framework(SAFe) for amazing sessions and get to learn more about Agility. https://www.meetup.com/singapore-scaled-agile-framework-safe-meetup/
The article was written By Elizabeth Kimani