Value stream management has a terminology problem, since there are terms out there that sound the same but are actually different: value stream, value stream mapping, value stream management, and value management – which leaves many confused. 

“There’s nothing wrong with value stream management itself, but there’s plenty wrong with how it’s being considered and discussed by others, who often conflate it with either Agile or value management,” said Andrew Fuqua, SVP of Products at ConnectALL in the SD Times Live! webinar, You’ve Heard What Value Stream Management Isn’t. Now Hear the Truth About What It Is. “They’re not the same thing.” 

The definition of value stream has been around for a very long time and it encompasses value-added and non-value-added activities that are required to take products or services from raw materials to the waiting arms of the customer, according to Lance Knight, president and COO at ConnectALL. At the high level of software development, this is the idea, planning, building, testing, and deploying. 

At ConnectALL, Knight said, “we believe a Value Stream Management Platform should be able to connect any and all of the tools, systems and platforms in your value stream ecosystem.” This results in having all the data and process information in one place, making it easier to act to remove waste or automate a process, which increases time-to-value to the organization.

Many organizations want to hop onto the bandwagon of creating value streams, but they don’t realize that they already have them in place, although unidentified and unmanaged. 

So, what IS value stream management?

“The key point is that value stream management is all about continuous improvement. A lot of people will put up a Kanban board, stop doing Scrum, and say that they’re doing Kanban. But really all they’re doing is not Scrum,” Fuqua said. “If you miss the improvement part and the understanding of the flow and really doing the Kaizen to improve what you’re doing, then you’re not really doing the Kanban method. It’s the same thing in value stream management.”