Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Value Streams, Quality Engineering And You: a #PNSQC2022 Live Blog

Wow, it's been an eventful couple of days but we have reached the end of the formal talk phase of the conference. This is the last talk before the festivities that follow and we get to go out and have fun in and around Portland. With moderating talks and being called in to pinch hit for a session, this has definitely been an eventful conference. Still, all good things must come to an end, and with that... 

Kaushal Dalvi, UKG

Today we have a new "D-D" to add to our list. Specifically, Value Stream Driven Development. So what does that actually mean?  We have a vast proliferation of development methodologies, so what does VSDD add to the DD nomenclature? Better yet, what is our value stream to begin with? Basically, our software's availability, robustness, performance, resilience, and security all add to the value stream. Anything that has an effect on any of those aspects can degrade that value stream. Thus, if we are looking at Value Stream Driven Development, what we are aiming to do is make sure that any change, any update, or any modification effectively adds to the overall value of your offerings. Additionally, as Lean Engineering concepts point to, we also want to eliminate waste wherever we can. 

When we take on a new approach, or a new library or framework, we can often be enticed by "the new shiny". I get this. Tools are awesome, they are fun, and they are nifty to learn. However, there are costs associated with these tools and changes. We have to ask ourselves what the actual gain is by using or implementing these tools, libraries, or changes. Can we vocalize or express what we are doing effectively? Does what we do benefit the entire organization? If not, can we explain why we are doing what we are doing and how those changes will benefit the rest of the organization?

Value is a subjective term. We could say anything that makes us money adds value. We could say anything that saves us time adds value. Additionally, anything that makes our product safer, more resilient, or perform better could be interpreted as adding value. Also, what may be seen as valuable to one part of the organization may be seen as less valuable to another part. What is valuable to the organization may be negligible to the customer or even detrimental. Thus value is context-dependent. 

The lean principles fall into these five areas:

- Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.

- Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.

- Make the value-creating steps occur in a tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.

- As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.

- As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, repeat this process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.

(Womack and Jones, 1996)

This is a great reminder to help us focus on ways to make sure that we make the main thing... "the main thing". By focusing on value-add and making sure our efforts specifically target value add, we are better able to implement the five Lean principles and make them meaningful and actionable. 

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