Value Stream Maps: The Snapchat of IT

Posted by BusinessForward Team on June 1st, 2016

Communication conceptBy:  Clinton Kehr, Solutions Architect, BusinessForward

IT leaders probably don’t send each other pictures of themselves puking rainbows.

Thankfully, smart leaders have embraced the notion of instant communication without embracing the animated lenses available in the wildly popular app. Innovative start-ups around the world use software like SLACK which provides instant internal organizational communication. Business has transformed to mimic the way people think, with the same instant gratification at the helm of data results and analyzation methods (think Salesforce dashboards.)

As IT leaders continue to mature and gain more visibility to the business, demonstrating value is essential. This is where the benefits of instant information play a role. Having a snap shot of the current state of services your technology organizations are providing to the business can be transformative. Specifically, in terms of illustrating cost-benefit. One of the best streamlined tools to illustrate the associated costs to a specific process and move to Lean IT is a Value Stream Map (VSM).

The VSM tool provides a very macro-level view of process steps and the associated cost benefit to that entire process. From support roles to alignment of organizational goals, all while trimming processes to fit into a LEAN environment.

It’s a great tool for the age of instant business gratification to analyzing results. The VSM final document provides a clear macro picture of the associated cost benefit to a specific process. From this point, it is the decision of the leadership to evaluate the impact to the group, as it relates to the organizational goals and customers. By sharing this insight, internal customers can communicate where they don’t currently find value in the macro level step as it relates to what they receive as an end result. The process may be cut to streamline an improved customer experience, which translates into a better functioning organization.

I recently worked with a large, complex energy company to conduct a Lean IT Waste assessment of their services to internal customers. One of the specified deliverables was a set of Value Stream Maps that focused on capturing the total impact to the group to improve the overall customer experience. Why? Faster services, typically equals faster gratification which equals happier customers.

As is often the case, the final results uncovered inefficiencies buried in an over-complicated process. Our deliverables illustrated the impact to the group and some results surprised IT leadership. Though they knew improvements could be made, they were not fully aware of how much time was wasted on some of the particular services.

A mini-case study here helps us understand the role of the VSM tool. Bear with the jargon, because really, each term relates to specific things to be evaluated and their impact.

Understanding the VSM Tool

The determination to select focused subservices of the IT organization within an energy holding company serving nearly 600,000 customers was the result of a feasibility study. With these selected subservices, the goal was to evaluate the cost benefit of each subservice as it related to the goal of the process and service to the customer. Using the VSM tool, identification of the macro-level steps within each subservice created a platform for evaluating the Frequency, Volume, and Quantity, equaling Total Impact.

Each final step’s impact metric was funneled to a total Impact to the various IT groups within the larger organization, resulting in the appropriate data for making a decision on the cost benefit of the subservice.

Equally impactful is a vision into the total cycle time (CT) and total process (PT), of the subservice. These CT and PT metrics are captured on the VSM tool represented by peaks and valleys, providing additional data to cost benefit analysis.

Terminology Key

(F)requency: Represents the associated time by day, month, year, etc.

(V)olume: Represents the number of times the process step occurs in the Frequency

(Q)uantity: Represents the total people involved in that process step

FVQ = Impact: Represents the holistic time for the process step

Process Time (PT): Equals the total Process Time (Peaks of each macro-level step)

Cycle Time (CT): Equals the total Process Time (Peaks) of each macro-level step, plus Waiting Time (Valleys)

It’s a lot of jargon, to be sure. But it all means something and delivers truly tangible insight. Think of the tool as the first step toward Lean IT. Overall, the VSM tool may not be as widely used as those Snapchat rainbows, but they can bring just as much happiness to leaders who use it.

Looking to get lean? Contact John Huckle for a conversation:

Posted By
BusinessForward Team

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