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DevOps Teams, Enterprise Agile Planning, Project to Product Shift, Value Stream Management

Introducing the Value Stream Architect

Published By Mik Kersten
Introducing the Value Stream Architect

To enable your teams to build great software, start by identifying and empowering your Value Stream Architect.

The Age of Software is not only creating new markets and disruptors in existing markets; it’s also expanding existing roles within organizations. In this post, I’ll describe what I see as one of the most important new roles that is emerging from complex software delivery: the Value Stream Architect.

The traditional roles of both technology and business executives are rapidly changing. In the software-centric world, the business increasingly relies on technology not only to keep the lights but also for long-term sustainable growth. Software is the key to both operational excellence and innovation.

Technologists require buy-in, time and understanding from the boardroom to successfully navigate their organization’s digital transformation through uncharted and increasingly volatile waters. On paper, this sounds very obvious and simple. But as many leaders at large organizations are starting to realize, bridging the gap between IT and the business is a journey that is very difficult to navigate with today’s approaches. Their struggle is making it so easy for the digital-natives to move in on their customers and markets.   

We’re living in a time of glitzy new tools and methodologies such as Agile and DevOps to accelerate the business value of software delivery. Yet the gap between modern technical practices and the business is wider than ever, meaning business value can get lost or unrealized. The speed and quality benefits of these IT practices are often only felt at a localized level, say within development. An agile team may be building and submitting high quality code faster, but is the business benefit clear? Are the business and IT even speaking the same language? Is the link between technology advances and business benefits clear and tangible?

Tech giants know the answer to this question. They have complete end-to-end visibility over their software delivery value streams. They architect their continuous delivery pipeline to accelerate the end-to-end flow of business value from customer request to delivery and back through the customer feedback loop. In fact, the very core of these digital-native companies is their software delivery pipeline.

Traditional enterprises, on the other hand, are forced to re-architect their software value streams around their existing business models. It is perhaps one the biggest technical and business challenges they face, which is why a new role is emerging –  the Value Stream Architect – one that not only understands how business value is delivered through large-scale software delivery, but someone who also knows how to speak both the language of the business and the technologist.

In my recent article for TheNewStack – “The Age of Software Needs Value Stream Architects” – I delve into what a Value Stream Architect is and why they are necessary for an organization to be able to compete with digital disruption to survive and thrive in the next decade.

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Written by Mik Kersten

Dr. Mik Kersten started his career as a Research Scientist at Xerox PARC where he created the first aspect-oriented development environment. He then pioneered the integration of development tools with Agile and DevOps as part of his Computer Science PhD at the University of British Columbia. Founding Tasktop out of that research, Mik has written over one million lines of open source code that are still in use today, and he has brought seven successful open-source and commercial products to market. Mik’s experiences working with some of the largest digital transformations in the world has led him to identify the critical disconnect between business leaders and technologists. Since then, Mik has been working on creating new tools and a new framework - the Flow Framework™ - for connecting software value stream networks and enabling the shift from project to product. Mik lives with his family in Vancouver, Canada, and travels globally, sharing his vision for transforming how software is built, and is the author of Project To Product, a book that helps IT organizations survive and thrive in the Age of Software.