Successful Digital Transformation start with Value Streams

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

It is expected that businesses will invest $7.4 trillion on Digital Transformation between 2020 and 2023. 

That said, in 2018 businesses invested £1.3 trillion into transformation initiatives but, a massive 70% was wasted on failed programs.

The biggest reasons for failures are not people or Agile teams. It is the business's failure to communicate value and purpose of the transition effectively with Agile teams.

Here are 10 reasons how Value Streams can help identify, communicate value and purpose of Digital Transformation.

But what is value stream and why should businesses invest time and energy in mapping value streams?

Value Stream represents a series of steps that businesses use to implement Solutions which provide a continuous flow of value to customers. It includes all the steps from a concept to implementation of the solution. It also includes people who do the work and tools that will be used to deliver this value.

Value stream visualises these steps in a simple flow diagram available for everyone in the business to view. This activity is called Value Stream Mapping.

First reason: Bridge function silos

Generally, businesses are organised around function silos such as departments or divisions. Each department or division typically has their respective objectives and limitations. This results in delay and inclusion of waste during delivery. In this setup businesses loose customer centricity and fail to deliver optimal customer value. 

Value streams cross over job functions, departments and divisions aligning people and tools to a common mission. Hence bridging function silos.

Businesses that invest time and effort in mapping value streams deliver value to their customers in shorter lead times compared to their competitors.

Second reason: Minimise delays with the delivery of solution

One of the biggest reasons for delays is the time Agile teams have to wait for other Agile teams to complete their work or resolve a bottleneck. 

Value stream connects people from different areas of the business into a cross-functional team with built in capabilities such architecture, software development, operations that have full autonomy to define, build, test, implement including release if needed.

Therefore, reducing the time people and teams have to wait before they can deliver their work. Ultimately, reducing the overall time to deliver a solution. 

Third reason: Eliminate waste

The larger a business is, it is likely that each function or department of that business will have their own goals and objectives. This can lead to the inclusion of wasteful activities that consume resources but do not add value to customers. 

Some common examples of wastes are:

  1. Context switching - when a developer working on different priorities is constantly interrupted

  2. Over-production : Producing features that customers are never going to use

  3. Over-processing : investing time in developing complex solutions to address simple problems

  4. Unfinished software: Work that is still in the queues not earning any money

Value Stream mapping enables businesses to see the big picture and highlights non-value adding activities. This is so that businesses can focus on value-add activities and deliver solutions in shortest sustainable time scales

Fourth reason: Build lasting and stable Agile teams

With a project-oriented setup, teams are built to do a specific piece of work and then dispersed. What happens to that project after the team has been disbanded? It becomes unsustainable overtime. Usually after a number of unsuccessful attempts to hand over the solution to service teams or even unresolved defects and technical debts.

Value streams ensure a continuous flow of work is brought to stable cross-functional  teams. Resulting in the development of high-quality sustainable solutions by teams empowered to design, build, test, deploy and release.

Fifth reason: Identify and address bottleneck quickly

I am sure you have often heard team members saying; “I am blocked” . Do you always know where your bottlenecks are? You may know some of the bottlenecks that often block team members. But, will addressing that bottleneck ensure quicker delive