Value stream mapping is useful for operations with repeatable steps. When there are multiple handoffs in a process, DevOps can derive even more value from value stream mapping. Inefficiencies in a software development pipeline happen in the handoff—the wait time—between process steps. That is because software product or service delivery requires disparate groups working across different tools and systems. For example, if the development team is not closely working with the operations teams, communications errors can arise when the software product or service is being handed off to be maintained. Disorganized handoffs contribute to an increase in the total wait time and development cycle times. In turn, this increases the lead time, which is defined as the time between the start of any process and the completion of that process. Creating a value stream map can help to identify opportunities to decrease lead time and reduce development cycle times for a finished product.
The mapping process should be encompassing. The inputs for a DevOps value stream map are all the resources and stakeholders, which includes team members of the different groups involved, needed to deliver software. Creating such a value stream map ensures that everyone involved in the software product or service delivery process understands how their role impacts delivery of the software.
If I continue with the simple mobile app deployment value stream example, some of the resources needed just for code signing an iOS app include an app record in the Apple App Store. If the app is to be distributed through this channel, the Apple App Store requires a bundle ID to uniquely identify the app on the Apple App Store, a provisioning profile with the correct entitlements, and a distribution signing certificate to permit release of the app on the Apple App Store. The complete list of all resources required for app signing is longer. In a large organization there are generally many stakeholders. There may be one or more team members, perhaps part of a signing group, that will have responsibility for signing the app. All stakeholders—groups and team members—must be accounted for in the value stream map.
The list of all resources and stakeholders required for all process steps in this relatively simple mobile app deployment value stream is much longer. That list becomes even longer for a complex mobile app deployment value stream. This becomes problematic when considering the list for every app in a typical company’s mobile app portfolio. The point is that without some process to keep track of the resources and the sequence of process steps, inefficiencies get introduced that degrade mobile app deployment processes.
Currently, there is increasing interest in value streams and value stream mapping. Gartner estimates that by 2023, 75% of enterprise architects and application leaders will use value stream mapping to drive customer centricity. Value stream mapping provides companies with the ability to cut across and connect siloed business capabilities, linking business capabilities to the products and services they enable, and fueling continuous improvement.