The value streams layer encompasses the capabilities required to provide value streams to your customers. A value stream begins, ends, and hopefully continues with a customer. A value stream is the set of actions that take place to add value for customers from the initial request through realization of value by the customers. The value streams layer is one of the four layers of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, overviewed in Figure 1. These layers are: Foundation, Disciplined DevOps, Value Streams, and Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE). This blog focuses on the value streams layer.
Figure 2 depicts the DA FLEX lifecycle, overviewing the high-level workflow for a value stream. As you can see, a value stream begins with the initial concept, moves through various stages for one or more development teams, and on through final delivery into business operations.
Let's explore the components of Disciplined Agile's value stream layer. The hexes in Figure 2 and Figure 3 represent process blades, sometimes called process areas. A process blade encompasses a cohesive collection of process options, such as practices and strategies, that should be chosen and then applied in a context sensitive manner. Process blades also describe functional roles specific to that domain as well as extensions to the DA mindset specific to that domain.
You can see in Figure 3 that some process blades, such as Product Management and Program Management, are specific to this layer. Other process blades, such as Strategy and Marketing, are shared between the value streams layer and the disciplined agile enterprise (DAE) layer. This is an indication that you may choose to implement those process blades at both the enterprise level as well as the level of a single value stream - do what is right for your situation.
Expanding upon the Disciplined DevOps layer, the value stream layer adds the following blades:
Business operations focuses on the activities required to provide services to customers and to support your products. The implementation of business operations will vary by value stream, in a bank retail account services is implemented in a very different manner than brokerage services for example. Business operations includes help desk and support services (integrated in with IT support where appropriate) as well as any technical sales support activities such as training, product installation, and product customization. As you can imagine close collaboration with both your Sales and Marketing efforts is required to successfully Delight Customers.
The continuous improvement process blade describes how people within your organization can share their improvement learnings with one another in a systematic way. There are many strategies for doing so, including centers of excellence (CoEs), communities of practice (CoPs) which are also known as guilds, techniques for exploring existing ways of working (WoW), identifying new WoW, and sharing techniques.
Governance is the leadership, organizational structures, and strategies to enable you to sustain and extend your organization’s ability to produce meaningful value for your customers. Lean governance promotes strategies such as motivating people to do the right thing, enabling them to do so (often via automation), communicating organizational objectives, and preferring visibility over reporting.
The goal of marketing is to ensure successful interactions between your organization and the outside world. Disciplined Agile marketing applies data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating. It also means taking a validated learning approach, being customer focused, working in a collaborative and flexible manner, and working in an evolutionary (iterative and incremental) manner. Your marketing efforts will represent your organization and your offerings, both products and services, to the outside world and conversely will represent external stakeholders, and potential stakeholders, to the rest of the organization. In conjunction with product management, Marketing will be actively involved with long-term visioning for your organization’s offerings. Marketing is sometimes called brand management
Portfolio management addresses how an your organization goes about identifying, prioritizing, organizing, and governing their various endeavors. Disciplined Agile portfolio management seeks to do this in a lightweight and streamlined manner that maximizes the creation of business value in a long-term sustainable manner. Potential endeavors include solution delivery initiatives/projects, stable product development teams, business experiments (along the lines of a lean startup strategy), and the operation of existing solutions.
Product management is the art of taking strategic objectives and turning them into tactical activities. Disciplined agile product management is performed in a collaborative and evolutionary manner that reflects the context of your organization. Disciplined agile product management includes the acts of:
A program is a large team composed of two or more sub-teams (also called squads). The purpose of program management is to coordinate the efforts of the sub-teams to ensure they work together effectively towards the common goals of the overall endeavor. Program management encompasses financial activities, vendor management, coordination of people/staffiing concerns, coordination of the evolution of the solution, and coordination of requirements management issues across the sub-teams within the program.
Research & development
Research & development (R&D) encompasses the innovative activities undertaken by your organization to identify potential new offerings (services or products), or to identify potential improvements to existing offerings. R&D constitutes the first stage of development of a potential new offering. R&D activities are an important part of both product management and solution development to help explore potential ideas and strategies.
The aim of your sales efforts is to, you guessed it, sell your organization’s offerings (both products and services) to customers. Your sales people, if any, will work very closely with your marketing team to ensure they are focused on selling offerings that reflect your organizations’ overall strategy. They will also work closely with product management to ensure that what they’re selling is available or can be built in a timely manner. Organizationally Sales is often combined with marketing or may even be matrixed into business operations.
Strategy is what you do now, and what you intend to do in the future. The focus of the strategy process blade is to identify, evolve, and then drive the execution of your organization’s vision. Your vision is driven by the perceived needs of your customers and influenced by the environment in which you operate.
Photo credit: Umanix
Disciplined Agile (DA) has always recognized that some teams work remotely and now, given the need to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are applying our own advice with our DA training offerings.
Starting in early March we reworked our instructor-led training (ILT) offerings so that they can be delivered remotely by qualified instructors. In the picture above we see two Certified Disciplined Agile Instructors (CDAIs) from Umanix delivering the Disciplined Agile Lean Scrum Master (DALSM) certification workshop virtually. As you might expect, the instructors are using video conferencing software to work through the courseware with the students, but there's much more to it.
The DA workshops have many hands-on exercises, both games and case study work, in which students collaborate to learn critical concepts and techniques. In the bottom left-hand corner you see an exercise in which a group of students are in a breakout room and are working together. In the face-to-face (F2F) version of this exercise students move cards around on a table and discuss their decisions as they go. In the virtual version they move images around on the screen. In both cases the instructor is observing and helping the students where necessary. Once the group work is over the students then do a "wall walk" by going into each of the breakout rooms to see and discuss how other groups approached the problem.
We've been very lucky in that one of our DA Training Partners has been delivering DA training to globally dispersed teams for years. They agreed to take the lead and share their experiences and techniques with our other training partners so that we can successfully bring DA training to you remotely. In short, we've been in a position to apply proven remote training strategies so that your learning experience is the best that it can be.
Don't worry, DA Training Partners will still be offering face-to-face training once it becomes safe to do so again. And we'll also continue with virtual workshops as well, because my gut tells me that we're going to have a lot more distributed Disciplined Agile teams in the future.
Please visit Disciplined Agile Training to discover our current workshop offerings.