Value Stream Management (VSM)

What is Value Stream Management (VSM)?

Value stream management (VSM) is a strategic approach and set of practices utilized by businesses to optimize the end-to-end flow of value – from customer request to product or service delivery. This involves optimizing and continuously improving the flow of all activities and processes (i.e., the value stream) to ensure efficient delivery of value to the customer.

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While VSM is applicable across many industries, it’s especially beneficial in software development where it aids teams in identifying areas of strength and improvement, spanning from initial planning to coding and product and service delivery.

Techopedia Explains the Value Stream Management Meaning

Techopedia Explains the Value Stream Management Meaning

Value stream management is a way for a business to improve how they give customers more value by making internal processes better and more efficient from beginning to end. VSM is common in software development where it helps teams prioritize important tasks and minimize time spent on non-essential ones.

How Value Stream Management Works

Value stream management is considered an end-to-end process because it involves optimizing every aspect of a business’s workflow from start to finish.

VSM starts with the initial customer request or idea and examines the entire sequence of steps involved in delivering the product or service. VSM requires detailed mapping and analysis to identify areas for improvement. It can streamline business processes, minimize inefficiencies, and improve customer satisfaction.

The Role of Value Stream Manager

The role of a value stream manager is to oversee the entire process of delivering value to customers. The role requires planning, testing, and operations management, in addition to continuous performance metrics analysis and refining of processes to ensure efficient delivery of high-quality products or services.

Value Stream Managers collaborate with different departments to streamline operations, identify areas where improvements can be made, and ensure teams focus on the most important tasks.

As noted on Plutora, example role responsibilities include:

  • Implement best practices
  • Monitor value stream metrics
  • Manage key information
  • Coordinate work between teams
  • Communicate key project plans
  • Manage risks and resolve issues

Steps in Value Stream Management

Steps involved in value stream management may include the following:

PlanCreateTestReleaseMonitorMaintenance
  • Identify the value stream
  • Determine what is needed to improve customer experience

  • Map the current state
  • View current processes to reveal where improvements are needed
  • Analyze the current state
  • Look for problems and activities/processes that can be improved
  • Design the future state
  • Determine how things could be improved and make a plan
  • Implement improvements
  • Make the changes according to the plan
  • Monitor and measure
  • Keep improving business processes over time

Types of Value Stream Management

Value stream management typically falls into one of two categories: operational value streams and development value streams.

Operational Value Streams
  • Activities related to the operational aspects of delivering products or services.
  • Optimize business processes to ensure effective and efficient operations.
  • Identify bottlenecks, streamline workflows, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Development Value Streams
  • Activities related to the creation and delivery of new products or services.
  • Create value-added solutions to address customer needs and market demands.
  • Focus on efficient delivery of high-quality products or services. 

Development Value Streams
Source: Altamira

Value Stream Management Metrics

Common metrics used to measure value stream management include the following:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score: Measure of customer happiness.
  • Cycle Time: Time to complete one unit.
  • Deployment Frequency: Rate of software deployment.
  • Lead Time: Time from request to delivery.
  • Process Efficiency: Measure of resource utilization and waste.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Value gained from investment.
  • Value-Added Time: Time spent directly adding value.
  • Work in Progress (WIP): Tasks in progress.

Tools for Value Stream Management

Value stream management platforms (VSMPs) are software tools designed to enhance and streamline the delivery of value to customers. While specific features differ between platforms, VSMPs typically offer workflow automation, analytics, performance metrics, process mapping, and collaboration capabilities throughout the entire value stream.

Examples of VSMPs include:

Value Stream Management Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Deliver value to customers more effectively and efficiently
  • Enhance customer satisfaction
  • Faster delivery of products/services to meet customer needs
  • Increase efficiency through process optimization
  • Promotes a culture of continuous improvement

Cons

  • Adoption of VSM may be slowed and impacted by resistance to change
  • Gathering and analyzing data can overwhelm teams
  • Implementation can be time-consuming
  • Investing in VSM tools and technologies can be costly
  • Requires commitment from all stakeholders in the value chain

The Bottom Line

Value stream management helps businesses deliver what their customers want effectively and efficiently. This strategic approach to optimizing the end-to-end flow of value – from planning to delivering the final product or service – helps identify what works and what needs improvement.

While VSM offers numerous benefits, businesses may face potential challenges, including resistance to change from stakeholders accustomed to existing processes and understanding that VSM requires an ongoing commitment.

FAQs

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Vangie Beal
Technology Expert

Vangie Beal is a digital literacy instructor based in Nova Scotia, Canada, who has recently joined Techopedia. She’s an award-winning business and technology writer with 20 years of experience in the technology and web publishing industry.  Since the late ’90s, her byline has appeared in dozens of publications, including CIO, Webopedia, Computerworld, InternetNews, Small Business Computing, and many other tech and business publications.  She is an avid gamer with deep roots in the female gaming community and a former Internet TV gaming host and games journalist.