How leading IT organizations are using Value Stream Integration to generate more business value through software delivery

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Earlier this year, Tasktop analyzed 300 value stream diagrams of the largest U.S. enterprises across major industries such as financial services and healthcare to better understand how organizations are delivering software at scale. We wanted to know exactly how global leaders were successfully combating the threat posed by digital-savvy businesses to continue to be innovative leaders in their field.

While Value Stream Integration was playing a key role in helping them manage and improve their software delivery value streams, we wanted to go deeper than that; beyond the sheer productivity benefits of say, flowing defects between the tools used by development and test teams. We wanted to better understand the business value they were generating through integration.

Through this research, we identified some striking similarities between these global heavyweights in terms of mindset and approach to software delivery.

Leaders are doing things differently…

  1. They’re looking beyond Agile and DevOps and thinking end-to-end to optimize how work (value) flows from customer request to operation and back through the customer feedback loop
  2. They’re defining, connecting and managing their Value Stream Network through integration and investing in Value Stream Management
  3. They’re building a modular infrastructure, enabling them to plug teams and tools in and out with disrupting existing workflow
  4. They’re focusing on end-to-end flow time metrics to identify bottlenecks and efficiency opportunities to optimize the process
  5. They know there is ‘no one tool to rule them all’. They recognize that they need embrace an integrated best-of-breed tool strategy that provides specialization at each key stage of the process, and works together as one cohesive system.
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What tools are leaders using?

There are some excellent specialist tools out there that address every facet of the software delivery process. Some of these tools are mature legacy tools, while others are new to market that are equally as popular and powerful.

Some of the most popular tools used by leaders include:

Mature

  • Micro Focus (HPE) ALM (Test Management)
  • Microsoft TFS (Agile Development)
  • CA Clarity PPM (Project Management)
  • IBM RTC (Agile Development)
  • BMC Remedy (ITSM)
  • IBM DOORS NG (Requirements Management)

New

  • Atlassian JIRA (Agile Development)
  • ServiceNow Service Desk (ITSM)
  • CA Agile Central (Rally) (Agile Development)
  • Blueprint (Requirements Management)
  • Jama (Requirements Management)
  • Tricentis Tosca (Test Management)

What artifacts are leaders flowing?

Leaders recognize that collaboration between practitioners is the linchpin of their software delivery. They also recognize that artifacts are the “currency of collaboration” and that focusing on how this collaborative data is enriched and flowed between tools is critical for faster, better product development.

The most popular artifacts used by leaders highlight the most important stages of the process:

  • Story – descriptions of features of a software system
  • Epic – a chunk of work that has common objective
  • Ticket – information that relates to an issue or problem from the field
  • Defect – a bug, failure or flaw
  • Test Case – a set of conditions or variables that determine if a system satisfies requirements
  • Requirement – what the user expects from a new or modified product
  • Feature – the functionality of a software application

What are they connecting?

Leaders are implementing a similar set of integration patterns. These patterns are frequent and critical interactions between collaborators and tools (via artifacts) at key stages of the software delivery process.

We’ve come a long way from just fixing bugs in code. While the first pattern – and still most popular – is the developer-tester alignment (via defects), we’ve identified a number of integration patterns across our customers value streams that dramatically improve the efficiency of their workflow.

The growth of these patterns reflects the evolution of software delivery as it becomes increasingly more complex and sophisticated as more roles, tools, workflows and artifacts emerge, intertwine and depend on each other.

More patterns will continue to emerge as organizations seek to improve efficiency across the process to make it more manageable and effective, and map their integrations to business drivers. While end-to-end integration must be the end goal as it encompasses the whole value stream and connects that all-important network, you may not be as far behind the leaders as you think.

Our research into the number of tools that organizations are integrating found:

The number of tools that respondents are integrating.

Types of integration patterns

Below are the 11 common integration patterns that leaders are using. The sophistication of these chained patterns has grown significantly over the last five years:

1) Project Portfolio Management – Requirements Management Alignment

Why: Brings the people who manage product workflow closer to the people who understand what the customer needs from the product.

2) Requirement Management – Agile Planning Alignment

Why: Brings the people who understand what the customer needs from the product closer to the people who build it to ensure it delivers value.

3) PMO-Agile Plan Orchestration

Why: Brings the people who manage the products closer to the people who build them to ensure that development is on schedule and on budget.

4) Developer-tester alignment

Why: Brings the people who build the product closer to the people who test the product to reduce defects in production.

5) Help Desk Feature Request

Why: Brings the people who log customer product feature requests closer to the people who resolve them.

6) Known Defect Status Reporting To Help Desk

Why: Enables the people who build the software keep the people who work closely with the customer aware of any known issues (defects) going into production

7) Help Desk Incident Escalation

Why: Brings the people who log customer product issues closer to the people who fix them.

8) Requirements Traceability

Why: Traces the product journey from the people who plan and design the software to the people who build it. This traceability allows all stakeholders to understand a product’s development across key stages to increase product accuracy, speed of delivery, and helps identify where any issues originated for faster time-to-resolution.

9) Requirements Management To Test Planning

Why: Brings the people who test products closer to those who know what the customer needs to ensure test coverage meets any strict regulations or compliance issues.

10) Supply chain integration

Why: Brings all stakeholders involved in the process from outside the organization closer to those inside the organization to ensure consistency of information, compliance of process, and better supply chain collaboration.  

11)  Consolidated Reporting

Why: The holy grail of reporting is to obtain “one source of the truth.” Yet, it’s so difficult to get this view when critical information relating to a product’s development is siloed in different tools. Integration aggregates all data into one database that can be used for reporting purposes.

Common characteristics of leader success stories

Challenges

  • Multiple best-of-breed tools, with no streamlined processes
  • Poor visibility into the end-to-end flow of work, making it difficult to measure and improve performance
  • Regulated industries that require traceability for safety-critical software that is appropriately tested
  • Degraded productivity due to manual work, duplicate entry, and collaboration through email, spreadsheets and status meetings
  • Disruptions via acquisitions, mergers, and reorganizations

Benefits

  • Enhanced efficiency and coordination
  • Improved visibility and traceability
  • Future-proof infrastructure to adapt to evolving business needs

Key takeaways

  • Value Stream Thinking is vital to the success of Agile, DevOps and other IT transformations
  • Enterprises with connected value streams are thriving
  • A connected value stream is key enabler in the shift from managing software projects to delivering products and business value
  • A sophisticated integration infrastructure is required to bring the value to life

Learn more

For a more in-depth analysis into the research, watch the below webinar featuring Nicole Bryan (our VP of product) and Chandler Clemence (Product Analyst), where they share the results of an analysis of 1,000 tool integrations to learn:

  • How IT tool integration accelerates enterprise software delivery
  • How to implement 11 popular tool integration patterns
  • Strategies to reach integration maturity through chained integration patterns
Click on graphic to watch webinar

How Tasktop Helps

Tasktop’s Value Stream Management solution, underpinned by our pioneering model-based approach to integration, provides customer with a host of benefits including:

Automates Information Flow Across Value Stream

  •       Enables the frictionless flow of artifacts, as well as information from events across the value stream
  •       Removes non-value-added work and bottlenecks
  •       Increases velocity and capacity
  •       Provides automated traceability
  •       Dramatically improves employee satisfaction (no manual handoffs etc.)

Enables Value Stream Visibility

  •       Provides real-time view of product statuses
  •       Unlocks lifecycle activity data from separate tools
  •       Automatically compiles data into single database
  •       Enables management to create dashboards and reports for holistic view of value stream

Creates a Modular, Agile Toolchain

  •       Enables organizations to use products that best support each discipline
  •       Drives more value from each tool
  •       Easily add, replace and upgrade tools (ideal for mergers and acquisitions, and restructuring)
  •       Creates proactive environment for innovation

With this connected network, organizations can finally see, manage and optimize one of the most important processes in their business; the engine that drives their prosperity in a digital-centric world. You cannot underestimate how important it is to have this network, this complete system. This is the state where innovation thrives, and where continuous improvement can be executed. And, of course, where you gain the essential visibility to be confident you’re always building the right products to drive your business like a leader.

Getting started – how to become a leader

Speak to us today about a complimentary one-hour consultation with one of our value stream experts to help you start visualizing, measuring and optimizing the value streams that exist in your business today.

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