In this age of faster, and leaner software delivery, managing teams and more importantly managing tasks and workflows, both within teams and across teams, is more relevant than ever. Time waste, too much work in progress and an overhead of technical debt are just a few of the problems that enterprises and other large organizations are faced with. What are the root causes of work overload and how can it be mitigated so that cloud native adoption is a reality without your organization having to compromise on quality?

Cornelia Davis, CTO Weaveworks and Dominica DeGrandis, director of Digital Transformation at Tasktop offers some practical advice on evaluating IT workflows in the enterprise and how to manage technical debt and other invisible work.

End-to-end value stream mapping

Dominica has been working with teams to help them be more productive for a number of years. With all of the changes we’ve seen in the last decade or so - it was 9 years ago that Marc Andreessen wrote his seminal piece on Why Software is Eating the World, where are we now in terms of IT work management?

“This striking shift that occurred in 2006 and 2007 to [agile development methodologies]... is nothing compared to where we are today; where we are now changing our methods to how we make all of our work more visible.” -- Dominica DeGrandis

Managing IT teams has also changed drastically with teams no longer estimating work in a PMO-driven environment. Instead most enterprises are using an agile approach with the majority of its activities split into short manageable sprints. However agile methods tend to favour new features and can sometimes leave out the invisible work, like server maintenance, bug fixing and other technical debt. Dominica and her team at Tasktop take agile one step further by evaluating the invisible work that is a part of every project, and maps it into value streams.

What are value streams and how do you go about mapping them?

In a software context value streams can seem confusing since originally the term was used in factories on the assembly line, for example in the automobile industry. In an auto assembly plant you can see all of the visible parts it took to assemble a car. In software delivery, some of the parts or activities that are necessary to deliver the whole product are invisible. However the definition of value stream still holds true and for software and includes the sequence of activities it takes to deliver business value.

Business value most obviously is revenue, but it doesn’t always have to be economic. For example if you’re working at a non-profit, the business value might be the number of lives saved. For software, a value stream needs to encompass all of the activities it takes to deliver business value, and by doing so, teams that don’t directly deliver products or features are also funded as part of the value proposition for the company.

Tune in to the entire episode for more on how value stream mapping is used in software development and other IT projects.


Bio: Dominica DeGrandis is the author of Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work Flow. She is a huge fan of Flow and using visual cues to inspire change. As Principal Flow Advisor at Tasktop, Dominica advises customers on flow concepts, metrics and value stream optimization. Dominica lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and extended family.

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The Art of Modern Ops · DevOps and the Visibility of Work in the Value Stream

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