Value stream mapping focuses improvement efforts and pinpoints solutions that will give the most value for money, time and energy. Value stream mapping creates a material and information flow map of a product family. A typical value stream includes customer orders entering the production control schedule, raw materials entering the facility, manufacturing processes and finished goods leaving the shipping dock.
PMI has defined SAFe is referring to the people doing the work in the value stream. In any event, value streams aren’t defined, they represent the reality of what’s happening. In other words, value streams are about our current state and not what we want it to be. We don’t define a value stream as much as we refine one. Value stream mapping is a way to see what is working and what isn’t. It focuses on the delays in delivering value.
There is a difference between the flow of work (value stream) & the people through which it flows (ARTs). SAFe obscures this distinction by referring to value streams as “long-lived” when they really mean the grouping of people who work on them.
What we want is groups of people focused on the different value streams of a product. FLEX calls these groups dedicated product groups (DPGs). For very large products a DPG may be composed of sub-teams that work on separate product enhancements. Ideally the value streams within a DPG only interact to ensure high quality (e.g., architecture issues). Other interactions often result in constraints, delays and extra work.
When new work is undertaken in SAFe that requires multiple ARTs, it is important to recognize that this new work has its own value stream and that some people are now involved in multiple value streams. Thinking about this new stream as a combination of two separate value streams (as SAFe does) obscures the need to look at the new value stream directly in order to eliminate constraints and delays in it.
The techniques for improving value streams are related, but distinct from the techniques used to lower dependencies between them.
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