The scalable agile framework FAST relies on value streams to divide large transformation projects into manageable, thematic units. This allows small, highly focused teams to produce a continuous stream of results, deliver the highest possible customer value, and find the highest motivation for their own work.
How Value Streams create focus and motivation in agile project management
Constantly interrupted periods of work, tasks whose purpose is unclear, and endless to-do lists - this is still the reality of many people's working lives. No wonder that both motivation and results fall by the wayside. Value Streams solve these problems by ensuring that even in the largest projects, each individual work package contributes to the overall goal and that the value of each task is clear at all times.
"Slicing the elephant" in FAST means: breaking the big project elephant into small, well-defined slices that fit together according to clear rules."
Jürgen Richter, Senior Consultant and FAST Product Owner at Xtentio GmbH
How does it work? The value streams of the scalable agile framework FAST are used to break down the large "elephant" - for example, a large transformation project involving numerous people or even departments - into smaller, manageable subunits. These, in turn, are broken down into work packages and finally into individual, very specific tasks that small teams can work on in sprints. Each value stream focuses on a specific topic and contributes to a very specific goal within the overall project.
The Value Streams in FAST ...
- are cut in such a way that the team can focus on a specific topic,
- are subject to clear rules so that everyone involved knows exactly what the goals and time frame are,
- Create a continuous stream of results and tangible benefits, which helps motivate within teams, and
- are not interrupted by other tasks that suddenly appear, so that focused, value-adding work is possible.
Each Value Stream has a Value Stream Owner who is responsible for the goals of the Value Stream. They are allowed to make necessary decisions and prioritizes work packages according to their benefit to the overall program. Corresponding to the tasks of a value stream, the meaningful and stable composition of the teams also results, which is a further gain for them: The participants can use their manpower and competence in their subject area in a meaningful and profitable way, overcome challenges, recognize progress and thus increase their own motivation. The value streams are also supplemented by workstreams, which further increase the efficiency of the value streams.
What exactly are Value Streams?
Value streams divide large transformation projects into smaller thematic units. These are now cut so that each has a clear, overarching goal. Value streams are nothing more than "sub-projects," but they have one important characteristic: The goal of all activities within a value stream is to create benefits and value for a specific topic: Value streams are "value oriented".
The team of a value stream is composed in such a way that it can implement these values as independently as possible without too many dependencies on other value streams. In contrast to traditional projects, where departments, consultants, software developers, and data specialists often work in separate teams and pursue their "own" goals, value stream teams are as interdisciplinary as possible.
This allows value streams to focus clearly on the overarching goals and their own value contribution to the big picture. The result is less coordination, handoffs, and delays. Teams work together for the long term toward a common goal and are benefit and solution oriented.
Value Streams and Value Stream Teams should therefore be designed in such a way that they can "create value" as independently as possible within a large transformation project. However, interdependencies between value streams can never be completely avoided. Value streams must therefore be aligned and coordinated on a regular basis. Joint season planning is the main tool for this.
Organize around value
Tailor projects so that each value stream has a clear and unambiguous objective. Make them as independent as possible to simplify dependency management. And make sure that a Value Stream team can perform all tasks themselves.
How Value Stream Mapping works in FAST
The concept of value streams originates from lean management and is best known through the agile project management method SAFe®: From the initial idea to the final implementation, value stream mapping is used to depict an overarching value stream that provides an overview in advance and identifies potential weaknesses (e.g., in dependencies).
The value stream mapping of the agile SAFe® method is also found in a lean, lightweight way in the FAST approach: FAST combines value streams with rhythmto coordinate smaller sub-projects, work packages and tasks with each other. The overarching rhythm ensures that deadlines are met and that the intended results are achieved. The two components, Value Streams and Rhythm, result in the FAST Planning Matrix, which provides an overview of even the largest projects and makes the benefits of Value Streams scalable. In this way, FAST creates a high level of commitment and predictability compared to other agile methods.
Value Streams vs. Workstreams
Not every task is directly value-adding - some things "just have to be done" or do not directly contribute to customer value. To cover these processes, FAST also works with workstreams. Tasks that further increase the efficiency of value streams are organized into workstreams, such as
- in program management (e.g. project organization and planning),
- in change management (e.g. acceptance testing, rollout organization and training) and
- in Operations (e.g. systems and processes, operations and support).
The workstreams and the value streams in combination enable
- a high level of focus,
- less friction and dependencies,
- increased efficiency,
- fast implementation,
- tangible customer benefits and
- thereby more transparency and customer satisfaction.
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With our agile project framework FAST, we make agile digitization projects and transformation programs plannable and manageable.