While the benefits of Value Stream Management (VSM) are significant, many organizations are struggling to realize its full potential.
To examine why, we’ve collaborated with the VSM Consortium on a new report, “The State of Value Stream Management 2022.” This report draws on an extensive survey to reveal where organizations are in their VSM journeys and some of the hurdles they face. According to the report, two-thirds of organizations have been actively engaged in earlier phases of the journey, but only one-third have made it to the latter stages of the process. What’s holding them back? In the sections below, I’ll take a look at a few of the top obstacles confronting teams today, and offer some strategies for overcoming these impediments.
Obstacle 1: Resource constraints
When asked about barriers to VSM adoption, “No resources for this” was the top-rated answer, receiving about 20% of responses. Teams making this comment were referring to skills, budget, and time.
Like any strategic initiative, VSM requires time and money to be invested. However, through these investments, teams can see near-term gains and establish the optimization that yields compounding benefits over time.
Obstacle 2: Lack of focus
Eighteen percent of respondents said their VSM barrier was that “we have too many other active change programs.” This is understandable. VSM follows on the heels of other large-scale changes, particularly moves to adopt lean, agile, and DevOps.
The reality is that VSM shouldn’t be seen as additive, as yet another initiative that needs to be supported, detracting from these other priorities. Instead, VSM needs to be viewed as an enabler, an approach that fuels more effective alignment around strategic endeavors and attainment of better business outcomes.
Obstacle 3: Lack of leadership
When asked about obstacles they were confronting, a significant percentage of respondents indicated that “We don’t have leadership buy-in” (15%) and “We don’t have anyone to lead the effort” (11%). This is a logical symptom of the lack of resources many teams are wrestling with.
The lack of executive buy-in leaves teams without the resources they need and that includes leaders who can help direct VSM efforts.
To combat these obstacles, leaders need to be engaged and educated about VSM and why it’s an imperative, including: opportunities, steps required, and payoffs. Only after this happens can leadership be brought to bear in terms of the investments and prioritization required.
Obstacle 4: Tool proliferation
In the survey, 9% of respondents said tool proliferation is an obstacle to VSM adoption. Rather than being viewed as another tool that compounds these existing problems, VSM platforms can be the integral solution that enables teams to optimize the investments that have already been made. By effectively implementing VSM platforms, teams can create a common language and leverage trusted data to fuel cross-team visibility and insights.
That’s why there’s such momentum behind the move to adopt VSM platforms. The survey found that, between 2021 and 2022, the percentage of respondents piloting, implementing, or considering VSM platforms increased from 6% to 36%.
Although there are undoubtedly obstacles, the reality is that many teams are making major strides. For example, the survey found that 70% of respondents are now connecting flow metrics to business results, which is an integral part of building alignment between business and technology teams.
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