While the pandemic was significantly challenging for businesses, it exposed the need to quickly adapt and change. Software products for internal or client use continue to provide an opportunity for a competitive edge in nearly any industry. Businesses will immerse themselves and compete in the digital economy by consistently producing better software products at an ever-increasing pace.
In the past year, two new solutions with similar names have been gaining attention: value stream management platforms and value stream delivery platforms. Both are designed to help firms improve their software development process. The end goal for both is also similar—speed up development—but how each accomplishes this goal is important to differentiate the two.
So which one should you use? We’ll cut to the chase—the value stream delivery platform provides more strategic long-term value. Here’s why.
First: Value Stream Mapping
To understand the need, you first need to understand value stream mapping. This involves visualizing the value stream processes and events from conception and creation to testing, production and, finally, release. By mapping the value stream, you can get a better understanding of the workflow and identify dependencies between the different activities, which will help you identify any blockages or impediments to delay delivering customer value.
Staying abreast of your value stream is essential to delivering value to the customer as it connects all the multiple teams, tools and applications along the way. By gaining clearer visibility into the entire software delivery process, you can then scale your enterprise by bringing other teams on board for greater collaboration. Additionally, tracking your value streams can help reduce any risks to performance, as you can easily see the throughput and stability of your products.
Value Stream Management Platforms (VSMP) Explained
Simply put, value stream management helps solve poor visibility across the software delivery life cycle. You can measure and manage the performance of your software delivery team, identify any areas for improvement and leverage best practices that support collaboration through teams. Additionally, a value stream management platform helps connect applications, teams and tools through the collection of static data used to improve ongoing delivery performance.
One benefit to using a value stream management platform is that existing toolchains remain undisturbed. The VSMP simply integrates with the different datasets across the existing process and provides the desired visibility and analytics to the different product value stream(s) across the organization.
An Underlying Problem: Toolchains
The lure of easy visibility that a value stream management platform provides is somewhat deceptive. The constant pressure to create and deliver better software faster using multiple tools and manually built toolchains has reached its breaking point:
- Poor interoperability, manual handoffs and disparate data have created DevOps automation silos
- The multiple test environments used through the process and the need for multi-cloud and hybrid deployments add tons of unnecessary complexity
- Increased policy and security requirements simply cannot scale and remain manual
Developers are caught in the middle—they must understand both a complex development and deployment process plus build a complex product for their customers—but being an expert in both is nearly impossible.
The use of internal platform teams has been recognized as a way to solve this problem. The platform team is responsible for providing an easy-to-use solution; essentially treating developers as customers. In turn, the developers can focus their efforts on the software products they’re responsible for and on satisfying client needs.
How is a Value Stream Delivery Platform Different?
Many firms have learned the hard way that building an internal platform is risky, time-consuming and expensive. A value stream delivery platform replaces the traditional, manually built toolchains used today and sidesteps the risk, cost and development time involved in building a platform in-house.
A VSDP should:
- Cover the entire process of planning and creation, integration and verification, deployment and operations and, finally, monitoring and improvement
- Have both security and compliance capabilities built into the platform foundation
- Integrate DevOps point solutions, plus easily add or change tools over time
- Provide a centralized data model that creates one source of truth for the development process
- Provide metrics and reports to accelerate process and value stream improvements
- Improve software quality through continued enhancements based on best practices
A value stream delivery platform cuts the administrative burden on DevOps teams, allowing them to refocus their efforts on providing significantly higher value. Instead of maintaining toolchains, they can now help identify process bottlenecks, expand automation and work directly with application teams to drive standards.
Value stream management platforms provide value in understanding the process and where it can be improved. But they don’t fix the underlying toolchain problem. Instead, the improved visibility may tempt some to squeeze more productivity from developers over the short term without addressing the underlying toolchain problem. However, replacing toolchains with a value stream delivery platform can help address all these issues, and may prompt you to retire your value stream management platform.
To hear more about cloud-native topics, join the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and the cloud-native community at KubeCon+CloudNativeCon North America 2021 – October 11-15, 2021