Skip to main content

Agile / DevOps: Value Stream Mapping for IT Services – Some Thoughts

Value stream mapping originated as a lean-management method.  Today this method along with Agile, ITSM and other LEAN practices is utilized to understand and improve the delivery of products or services for all industries.  Being able to analyze the current state for the series of events that take a product or service from concept all the way through to value realization by the customer is a powerful tool. A tool necessary for designing an efficient future state and for strategizing continual service improvement.  Below are some thoughts on how the approach to value stream mapping can be applied to service management.

Getting Started: Beginning with the formal proposal or request from the customer and then documenting what takes place throughout the lifecycle is always a good starting point.  Value Stream Mapping requires a gradient approach including the following elements:

·         Define physical flow of events – If you are just starting out, it might prove helpful to keep this high level and not get to far down into the detail of workflow.  One approach is to start with the proposal, requirements and charter… document the flow of events (process activities) until it gets to the Project Management Organization.  Now track events there and follow through design, transition and operation.  It would be good here to document processes but also to keep in mind the process integration.
·         Define flow of information – It might be best to stick to critical elements of information that are required to fulfill the design and delivery of the service.  Information tracking could prove useful for such things as Business and Service Level Requirements gathering, Project charters, Service Acceptance Criteria,  Service Transition plans… Service Design package, Test results, Change schedules and more.  Record how this information flows through the processes.
·         Add process data to the value stream map - What data is critical for your success? Here is where you want to collect data related to how much time and effort it is taking you.  Process data could include lead times, cycle times, wait times for event or process activities. How long is it taking you to process information, design, and deployment of the service or product?   The focus is on how to improve the process for better workflow in this value stream.
·          Analyze the data and information in the value stream – The value stream map should now give you some information to identify bottlenecks, waste, and areas where processes are broken. One could also analyze how to integrate process activities early in the lifecycle.  Are silo’s between the Development team and Operational processes creating workflow issues?  Taking time to analyze here from a holistic and enterprise view point could prove critical to ongoing success.  
·         Create a future state for the value stream - Care should be taken so that we do not improve one area so much that we increase workflow that creates a bottleneck further in the stream.  We also need to be clear on what the rate of demand is from the business and customer requirements.   Let the customer/business requirements dictate the velocity for the flow of work.  Cadence and fluidity will be key.

A good rule here is to use an iterative approach and to be careful not to make more improvement or change in the process and workflow than the organization can sustain.  One Service Improvement Plan (SIP) at a time and be sure to “keep the momentum going”.  Have you applied Value Stream Mapping to your IT Services?  I have shared some of my thoughts here, what are yours?

Certification and training information:  

DevOps Foundation and Certified Agile Service Management  #DevOps


Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner?

I was recently asked to clarify the roles of the Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner and wanted to share this with you. Roles and Responsibilities: Process Owner – this individual is “Accountable” for the process. They are the goto person and represent this process across the entire organization. They will ensure that the process is clearly defined, designed and documented. They will ensure that the process has a set of Policies for governance. Example: The process owner for Incident management will ensure that all of the activities to Identify, Record, Categorize, Investigate, … all the way to closing the incident are defined and documented with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, handoffs, and deliverables.  An example of a policy in could be… “All Incidents must be logged”. Policies are rules that govern the process. Process Owner ensures that all Process activities, (what to do), Procedures (details on how to perform the activity) and the

Four Service Characteristics

Recently I came across several articles by researchers and experts that laid out definitions and characteristics of services. ITIL provides us with a definition that can help drive the creation of value-laden services: A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks. An area that ITIL is not so clear is in terms of service characteristics. Several researchers and experts put forth that services have four basic characteristics (IHIP): ·          Intangibility—Services are the results of actions not things. They have no physical presence and represent a logical set of elements. One way to think of service is “work done for others.” ·          Heterogeneity—Also known as “variability”; services are unique items because of the mechanisms used to deliver services-that is people. Because the people element adds variability, the service is variable. This holds true especially for th

How Does ITIL Help in the Management of the SDLC?

I was recently asked how ITIL helps in the management of the SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle).  Simply put... SDLC is a Lifecycle approach to produce the software or the "product".  ITIL is a Lifecycle approach that focuses on the "service". I’ll start by reviewing both SDLC and ITIL Lifecycles and then summarize: SDLC  -  The intent of an SDLC process is to help produce a product that is cost-efficient, effective and of high quality. Once an application is created, the SDLC maps the proper deployment of the software into the live environment. The SDLC methodology usually contains the following stages: Analysis (requirements and design), construction, testing, release and maintenance.  The focus here is on the Software.  Most organizations will use an Agile or Waterfall approach to implement the software through the Software Development Lifecycle. ITIL  -  is a best practice for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with