What Is The Difference Between Value Stream Identification (VSID) and Value Stream Mapping (VSM)?
Or “Why do we need to do value stream mapping of the delivery pipeline when we have already done value stream mapping to understand our operational and development value streams?”
When we start a SAFe implementation, we often begin with an event, a workshop, to identify how the organization should structure itself so that it improves how it delivers (flows) value to the customer. Many people call this exercise a “Value Stream Mapping” exercise.
Later, once we have launched ARTs based on this workshop, we start talking about DevOps and how we deliver value through the delivery pipeline. Usually the recommendation is that we do a Value Stream Map of the delivery pipeline. At this point the question is often asked “haven’t we done this?” or there is (understandable) confusion as to how the process we went through at the beginning of the move SAFe is going to help us now.
This confusion is caused by the fact that we are overloading our use of the term “Value Stream Mapping”. While the practice we use initially and later as part of DevOps discussion has similar steps, there are two very different purposes involved, and also two distinct practices.
The two purposes are:
- Value Stream Identification: The purpose of that first value stream workshop is to identify the operational (customers view of how we deliver value) and development value streams (the systems and people supporting the operational value stream) of our organization so we can identify the ARTs we need to set up to optimize the delivery of value. The thinking here is that if we structure our organization from the customer’s perspective, we can really focus on things which will improve that experience for our customers. While there are mapping steps involved the main purpose is to identify the value streams so we can reason about better organizational structure. In other words we need to understand the systems and people involved in delivering solutions so we can look for re-structuring opportunities. Accordingly we should call this “Value Steam Identification”.
- Value Stream Mapping: The purpose of subsequent delivery pipeline value stream workshops is to identify the steps required from a technical perspective to deliver value to our customers so we can reason about actions we can take to improve how we deliver value - better, faster, etc. Most organizations can deliver value to their customers and so have a “delivery pipeline.” The question we are working with value stream mapping is “how do we improve the delivery pipeline, and therefore improve our ability to deliver to our customers?” This is the DevOps discussion. In other words we need to understand the steps taken by our people to deliver value, and generate data so we can look for improvement opportunities. In the general literature, this process is called “Value Stream Mapping.” It is a Lean practice, where the steps required to do the analysis are the same whether you are working a manufacturing delivery process, a software delivery process, or any other kind of delivery process.
As can be seen, there are two different purposes. This means there are different people involved and steps each event goes through.