Value stream mapping vs. process mapping: which will have the greater impact on the efficiency of your team? Despite the similar names, these are two very different approaches with different goals and applications.
- Value stream mapping provides a high-level overview of your organization’s value delivery and lays the groundwork for value stream management.
- Process mapping, frequently used by engineering teams, offers deeper insights into individual processes, empowering organizations to optimize their existing operations.
Let’s take a deeper look at value stream mapping, process mapping, and the role they play in CI/CD, DevOps, and digital transformation.
Value Stream Mapping
Value stream mapping increases organizational efficiency through a better understanding of how the process stream flows. Imagine a physical stream: there may be blockages, turbulence, or rapids. A boat might pass through some areas of the stream quite quickly but take more time to navigate others.
For software development companies, a value stream map presents all the stages between the project’s planning and release. This value stream map isolates each product stage into a discrete and concrete step that can subsequently be process mapped. Importantly, a value stream map will encompass multiple departments and isolate the value derived from each.
Value stream mapping encompasses the organization’s delivery process from end to end. An organization’s value stream map should quickly reveal areas where the organization could improve. Begin building a value stream map by breaking delivery into small, iterative steps.
Most businesses already have access to all the information a value stream map can provide. But organizing, reading, and gleaning actionable information from the data presented is frequently the challenge. A value stream map provides the simplest possible view of a complex sequence of processes, with opportunities to improve.
Value Stream Management
Organizations can use their value stream maps to make critical decisions — this is known as value stream management. Value stream management ensures your software development processes align with your business goals and identifies ways to deliver value faster. To achieve this, organizations use value stream management to drive process change, identify inefficiencies, and reduce waste.
Value stream management is an offshoot of Lean production. Lean follows five major principles:
- Identify value.
- Map the value stream.
- Create flow.
- Establish pull.
- Seek perfection.
As you can see, value stream mapping is integral to this Lean production technique. Without mapping the value stream, the organization cannot identify disruption in the process flow. By revealing the stream, companies may create flow, establish pull and engage in continuous improvement — principles that align neatly with the DevOps framework and CI/CD practices.
Value stream management occurs at the highest levels of the overall product delivery and integrates key process data. Once a value stream map is fully developed, the organization can identify areas that require improvement. Use a value stream mapping as an overall assessment of the organization’s time management and strengths — as well as a critical tool to drive change.
From these maps, value stream management creates metrics by which a company can:
- Coordinate processes and workflows.
- Eliminate communication silos.
- Facilitate cross-department collaboration.
- Deliver more value faster.
Process mapping describes the flow of a known process. While value stream mapping occurs at a high level, process mapping occurs at the lowest level. Developers and engineers frequently use process mapping to identify core inefficiencies, redundancies, and gaps in their tasks.
Value stream mapping and process mapping can work together to identify inefficiencies within the organization’s pipeline. When used alone, process mapping will only offer an overview of how individualized processes work. However, these insights can be quite powerful when optimizing and sequencing individual tasks.
Ideally, value stream mapping and value stream management should come first. Value stream management empowers developers to intelligently remove, modify and replace the organization’s current processes and strategies. Because process mapping only identifies inefficiencies in existing processes, you want to make sure those processes are aligned with your business goals. Value stream mapping and value stream management can facilitate large-scale changes to the organization’s process strategies.
Value Stream Mapping vs. Process Mapping
Value stream mapping and process mapping yield unique insights and give rise to separate challenges. Value stream mapping is inherently more complex, requiring a macro-level understanding of business and development processes. While process mapping is simpler and faster, process mapping can only dig deeper into existing processes.
For production environments, value stream mapping will identify potential areas for growth — and bottlenecks to avoid. Value stream mapping highlights the organization's idle time and promotes faster, busier pipelines. Process mapping may highlight potential gaps or redundancies in core business processes or inter-department communications.
How Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping Work to Inspire Digital Transformation
While both value stream mapping and process mapping can help an organization increase efficiency, value stream mapping provides greater insights into the system.
By focusing on value stream mapping vs. process mapping, organizations can identify constraints, reduce inefficiencies, and streamline their product pipeline. Value stream mapping is an important part of any DevOps strategy, encouraging a culture of continuous improvement and fostering digital transformation — and ultimately enabling value stream management.