Value Stream Assessment for an Organization

The following are the key activities and roles that should take place.  These will be used to identify what actions need to be done when improvements are decided on.

At its essence, Flow and Lean activities can be centered on three things:

  1. what goes into the value stream (value, size and order)
  2. the structure of the value stream (how people can collaborate with each other)
  3. the workflow within the value stream (collaboration, visibility, alignment)

Other factors affect this (management, culture) but these are the mechanisms of what happens.

The above factors interact with each other.  Consider the impact of the size of what goes in and the structure of the organization. Workflow also has different levels – within a team and across an organization. Both greatly affected by how the organization is structured.

Value stream wide

Safety of the workplace. Can people bring up issues that need to be brought up? Is disagreement and saying “no” acceptable?

Visibility of work. Can all of the work being done be seen?

Effectiveness of Management. Is management helping create an effective eco-system within which people can work.

Business Architecture.  Are the business architecture issues being dealt with effectively.

Enterprise architecture.  How well is enterprise architecture being handled?

Value stream owner. This person looks to see how to improve the value stream.

Business Side

Portfolio Management

Clarity on strategy and how we’re investing.  Are the strategies of the organization clear and understood by all the people in the organization?

Identifying what to work on. How good is the organization in deciding on its initiatives?

Product Management

Discovery Workflow. How well does product management take initiatives to be ready for development.

Product Quality from customer perspective.  Are the requirements stated from the point of view of the customers so that the system is fit for purpose for them.

Intake Queue

Intake queue. Is there a well-defined intake queue? If not, what harm is that causing you?

Sequenced items. Are the items in the queue properly sequenced in the order in which they are so supposed to be worked on? If not, what problems is this causing?

High value items.  Are the items to be worked on high value items? Or are you working on entire epics at a time which always have a certain amount of non-high value parts?

Properly sized items. Are the items being worked on the smallest chunks of value they can be? This enables them to be finished more quickly.

Definition of ready present. Is there a definition of ready that you use to help ensure that the requirements are ready to be worked on?

Quick feedback between discovery and development. Does development provide quick feedback

Implementation and Support

Development Intake

Intake process. Is there an explicit way of taking the work on the business backlog into the development queues? This can be either via iteration planning or flow, but it needs to be well defined.

ATDD in use.  To what extent is ATDD in use? If it’s not being used are requirements clear?


Effective organization of teams. Are you teams organized so that they can work effectively? If not, what problems is this causing?

Quality of team process. Are your teams working in an agile way effectively? If not, what problems is this causing?

Workload relative to capacity. Are your  teams overworked? What problems is this causing?


Shared services. Do shared services and the development group work well together?

DevOps. Does the development group and operations work well together?

Integration. Does the integration process get done quickly or are a lot of errors discovered that requires rework?

Implementation Quality. What is the quality of the product being built? If this is a software product how much technical debt is there?

Test Coverage. How much automated testing and coverage is present.  What problems is caused if you don’t have this?

Deploy and Support

Marketing. Is marketing included during discovery and implementation. If it isn’t, is this causing problems?

Attention to operational value streams. Is the end to end to customer experience being considered? Is the focus on both the customer journey and stakeholder needs?

Preparatory Reading for Assessment Game

Cause and effect in complex systems

Ever notice how sometimes doing one thing wrong can mess up a situation but doing one thing right doesn’t necessarily fix this? That’s because there is an asymmetry in cause and effect. If often takes only one event to mess things up. But fixing one thing won’t fix the system when several bad events are taking place.

This is made more complicated when relationships between the parts of the system can’t be seen. This has led many people to abandon looking for what’s causing problems in knowledge work.

But this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. When we see actions that are causing problems, we can often discern if they are contributing to poor results. We don’t know that stopping the action will help, but it might, and by attending to these negative activities one of 3 things will happen:
1) We’ll get improvement
2) We’ll see why we don’t
3) We’ll learn about a new relationship we hadn’t seen

This can lead to predictably good results. We always have to get feedback to see what’s the result of any introduced change. But this feedback can be used to improve our understanding.