Covid-19 had an instant impact on London’s West End, and the Royal Opera House (ROH) was no exception. In March 2020, the company took the decision to close the building in Covent Garden and approximately 163 shows were cancelled in the first year of the pandemic. So when James Whitebread joined in June 2021, he could’ve been forgiven for wondering what kind of future lay ahead.

Appointed as CTO, he was immersed in a non-profit feeling the brunt. Through lockdowns and site closures, the Royal Opera House—home to The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera Chorus, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House—was also forced to make staff redundant, implement pay freezes and reduce salaries, as well as sell a David Hockney painting of former CEO Sir David Webster for £18 million as part of a four-step recovery plan to keep the venue afloat.

Artistic teams adapted to safe working practices with masks, regular PCR testing and team bubbles on set. Yet the loss of income was so stark that the organisation today says it lost the equivalent of £3 for every £5 through the pandemic.

But the show did go on.

Royal Opera House goes digital

In 2019 and 2020, ROH put on 146 performances and participatory events front of house, with 12 productions screened at cinemas and drive-in sites, and 71 productions broadcast across radio, television and streaming services.

The following year saw similar limitations of live, in-person productions. Christmas favourite The Nutcracker, for instance, ran only four performances out of a scheduled 17, but ROH did increase its reach through digital channels, with 15 live streams and 23 previously recorded operas and ballets made available on Pay-per-view, four of which were provided for free. Two-thirds of UK viewers watching the streamed productions lived outside London.  

“The lessons learned from streaming and Pay-per-view are feeding into our future plans for increasing our digital output and reach,” summarised the ROH’s annual report.

Despite the fall in revenue and social restrictions, the organisation had to continue investing in the care of the Grade 1 listed theatre in Covent Garden, and production facilities in Thurrock and Aberdare. Chair Sir Simon Robey admitted then the ROH wouldn’t have survived without support from Arts Council England and DCMS through the Culture Recovery Fund, as well as the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

In the technology team, Whitebread says that Covid changed everything. First, there was the small matter of getting up-to-speed with a now geographically dispersed team.

“Getting that opportunity to be in the office and meeting everybody took two or three times the time it would normally take,” he said. “That can be detrimental when you join an organisation because you’re trying to assimilate and understand the direction of travel of the organisation, but also the team. You want to get down to details of problems—areas where we can make improvements and a  roadmap for the next two to three years.”

Video streaming success

Shortly after the first government lockdown, the ROH—which employs more artists than any other UK arts organisation—offered an interim streaming service so customers could continue to enjoy shows from home.

In partnership with video hosting service provider Vimeo, the ROH stream was made available to global audiences, allowing them to watch content on-demand and attend live stream events. The non-profit supplemented this with YouTube fundraisers, and its Our House to Your House campaign—free weekly broadcasts from its archive, starting with The Royal Ballet’s Peter and the Wolf.

The success of an interim service—ROH says there were over 9.5m views of streamed performances in the first year—paved the way for the launch of a new ROH streaming service in October 2022.

Whitebread says that Vimeo’s VOD service offered support across multiple platforms, but with limited customisations and fewer controls over marketing, analytics and customer features.

“The ROH Streaming product allowed us to specifically target the needs of our market segment,” he says. “Delivering the feature set, content quality was required, as well as the branding, analytics and overall control over the experience we wanted to achieve.”

Artistic teams recommended, created and approved content; marketing teams worked together to translate the proposition to customers and members; and the ROH stream product team and technology teams worked collaboratively to design, build and integrate the ROH Streaming service into the ROH’s overall ecosystem.

“We realise we’re a physical venue and about getting our content out to our customers,” says Whitebread. “But it’s not just about getting content out to customers in the area. It’s about getting content out across the UK, and our brand known much wider than that.”

Distributed work changes technology leadership

Whitebread inherited a distributed team when he joined the ROH, but quickly set about restructuring the department into three areas for greater agility, speed and accountability: service delivery for customer support; transformation for project execution; and operations overseeing infrastructure and application delivery.

Agile methodologies helped things tick over, too, as well as planning work into weekly chunks, and having the technology team collaborate in daily stand-ups.

“Agile for the ROH was the engine room of our delivery,” says Whitebread. “It has and continues to allow us to plan delivery, share plans and progress with our own team and other interested teams, as well as provide the reporting we need, particularly focusing on continuous improvements. Agile was in use in pockets when I joined and we’ve subsequently rolled out more widely within the technology teams. As we now move to deliver projects across the organisation, agile as a methodology and some of the tools associated with agile project management such as JIRA are becoming more common place outside of the technology teams.”

The distributed workplace has, however, put a greater onus on welfare. Whitebread has changed his leadership style to accommodate. He could more readily pick-up signs in pre-pandemic office environments, but that task became challenging when staff moved to remote or hybrid models.

“When you’re not all together in the office, you’ve got to be more emotionally intelligent as to how the team is working and how they’re feeling,” he says. “You’ve got to pay more attention to people’s problems, whether they are work or personal.”

Digital transformation takes flight

For Whitebread, a new three-year business and technology transformation has just been approved, and it’s segmenting his work into four areas: physical and digital customer experience; improving back-of-house digital and retail technology; modernising core enterprise applications; and infrastructure.

There are ambitions to engage and retain the existing customer base, attract new customers, build better services and develop a data-driven approach for the future as well. Whitebread also talks of collaborating more effectively with front-of-house and HR, leveraging cameras to improve artistic endeavour, and expedite show refreshes. There’s also the push to trial new technologies such as Lidar to scan auditorium, stage and backstage areas and create 3D digital stage set designs.

With between 30 and 40 digital projects in flight, Whitebread admits it’s all in the pursuit of better customer experience. “We want to better understand our customer to make sure we’re delivering the best possible service and creating those opportunities for incremental revenue,” he says.

CTO, Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

If you’re looking to accelerate your organization’s digital transformation, the good news is that there are some proven principles you can apply. By employing Value Stream Management (VSM), some top enterprises are now better positioned to speed their transformation—and seeing multimillion-dollar savings as well.

If you’re not familiar with this concept, the basic premise is this: Through VSM, executives gain the visibility to align teams, workflows, and investments around one key aspect: customer value. In the process, they can break down the silos that stifle digital transformation. Following are a couple of real-world examples of what this means for leading enterprises.

Here are some highlights from a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Report, sponsored by Broadcom.

The Boeing Company

One of the world’s largest aerospace companies, The Boeing Company has been employing VSM for several years now. Through VSM, they optimized resource utilization and reduced waste.

“We always thought we were doing a good job of producing value until we started to work through this,” explained Lynda Van Vleet, Boeing’s portfolio management systems product manager. “In our first two years, we saved hundreds of millions of dollars. But that wasn’t our goal. I think a lot of organizations look at this as a way of saving money because you usually do, but if you start out looking at it as a way of creating value, that just comes along with it.”

The organization changed legacy approaches to product management and project investment. This enabled them to speed up their ability to innovate and pursue digital transformation. They created cross-functional teams that empowered employees to spend more time and effort on delivering customer value.

By establishing cross-team visibility, leaders were able to spot redundancies. For example, they saw how different IT organizations had their own analytics teams. “We had people in every organization doing the same thing,” explained Van Vleet. Boeing’s executives established a single analytics team to realign the work more efficiently and improve consistency.

Verizon

A multinational telecommunications company, Verizon offers another example of the power of VSM. Through their VSM implementation, they also gained advantages that translated to multimillion-dollar cost savings.

As Jason Newman, senior manager, systems engineering, Connected Solutions Group strategy and operations at Verizon, revealed to HBR, “We had some siloed organizations, and everything worked great within the silo, but as the company introduced products that crossed boundaries—the method of everyone focused on their own space wasn’t cutting it.”

By implementing VSM, the team has been able to foster the free flow of information across teams and gain dramatically improved visibility into value streams. Leaders have acquired deep information that has fueled more accurate, data-driven decisions about governance and staffing. 

VSM equips executives with the information needed to understand the impact of strategy shifts, including who is affected and which strategic goals might be jeopardized. Now, when executives are contemplating strategic changes, VSM gives them the information to quickly understand “who is impacted and which strategic goals might be jeopardized,” Newman stated. “Just the efficiencies gained from governing and staffing were multimillion-dollar cost savings.”

Conclusion

By employing VSM theories and tools, teams around the world are realizing massive benefits. To learn more about how some top enterprises have made VSM work in practice, be sure to read the briefing paper from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, “Using Value Stream Management to Speed Digital Transformation and Eliminate the Silos.” Sponsored by Broadcom, this report features the insights of industry analysts and expert VSM practitioners, who share some of the key lessons drawn from successful VSM initiatives. You can also visit ValueOps by Broadcom to learn more about the benefits and how to get started with VSM.

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Explore ValueOps Value Stream Management, built to manage what you value most. 

Digital Transformation

For many of today’s IT teams, there’s a common, recurring question that keeps being posed: Why are we doing this?

This question is fundamental, some may say basic, but it is often one that teams don’t get good, solid answers to. Further, this speaks to a broader lack of visibility and insight. Among the many potential initiatives considered, why was the current one selected? At a higher level, what’s the reasoning behind the relative staffing and budgeting priorities across products, support, and operations? Why do some teams have ample resources, while others are running lean? Even worse, what if teams find out that they’ve been wasting significant time on a “zombie” project, that is, one that’s lost executive sponsorship? For example, weeks after an executive departed, teams may find out there’s no longer support for an initiative they’ve dedicated significant effort to, and that it is going to be shelved before it ever sees the light of day.

When teams are wasting time focusing on zombie projects or they’re operating in the dark in terms of how their efforts map to business priorities, their productivity, morale, and results can all suffer.

This underscores why instituting Value Stream Management (VSM) is such a vital endeavor.

Simply put, VSM is about maximizing the delivery of value to customers. Through VSM, teams seek to ensure they’re properly funding, defining, aligning, measuring, and optimizing value streams.

VSM can provide leaders with transparency into the work that’s being done and how that aligns with their investments. Further, VSM is about bridging the gap between business and IT.

Through VSM, development teams and their management can gain better insight into the purpose of their work, and how it translates into value for customers and the organization.

VSM platforms can be integral in realizing this potential. VSM platforms can help teams manage work and investments across the enterprise. Not only can work be seen from a top-down view but also from a bottom-up perspective. This is beneficial for many different reasons. At the most basic level, teams that understand why they are being asked to work on a particular initiative will have a higher level of engagement and commitment to making that initiative a success.

More practically, the understanding of how work aligns with the organization’s strategic goals allows project teams to make more informed decisions on the approach to use, the way to overcome problems, and so on. In an agile environment, where success is dependent on empowered teams, that level of transparency is critical.

Transparency isn’t just important to the teams doing the work either. PMOs and related support functions have to ensure the effective use of resources, and that means delivering the best possible combination of business outcomes. Only when they can view the end-to-end integration of work — from goal, to investment decision, to work plan — can they intelligently make those prioritization and scheduling choices. The same holds true for product owners. Their focus is different than the PMO, but they must translate business vision into technical priorities, and that can only happen with end-to-end transparency.

Advanced VSM platforms can represent a solution for teams across the enterprise. From IT to business executives, these platforms can support planning, decision making, investment, and resources management. Through VSM platforms, teams can stop operating in the dark, and they can avoid having to waste time on zombie projects.

To learn more about ValueOps, the VSM platform from Broadcom, be sure to visit our ValueOps VSM page. Find out how you can deliver more value to your customers and gain increased visibility and alignment in your organization.

Explore ValueOps Value Stream Management, built to manage what you value most.

Collaboration Software

While the benefits of Value Stream Management (VSM) are significant, many organizations are struggling to realize its full potential. 

To examine why, we’ve collaborated with the VSM Consortium on a new report, “The State of Value Stream Management 2022.” This report draws on an extensive survey to reveal where organizations are in their VSM journeys and some of the hurdles they face. According to the report, two-thirds of organizations have been actively engaged in earlier phases of the journey, but only one-third have made it to the latter stages of the process. What’s holding them back? In the sections below, I’ll take a look at a few of the top obstacles confronting teams today, and offer some strategies for overcoming these impediments.

Obstacle 1: Resource constraints

When asked about barriers to VSM adoption, “No resources for this” was the top-rated answer, receiving about 20% of responses. Teams making this comment were referring to skills, budget, and time.

Like any strategic initiative, VSM requires time and money to be invested. However, through these investments, teams can see near-term gains and establish the optimization that yields compounding benefits over time. 

Obstacle 2: Lack of focus

Eighteen percent of respondents said their VSM barrier was that “we have too many other active change programs.” This is understandable. VSM follows on the heels of other large-scale changes, particularly moves to adopt lean, agile, and DevOps.

The reality is that VSM shouldn’t be seen as additive, as yet another initiative that needs to be supported, detracting from these other priorities. Instead, VSM needs to be viewed as an enabler, an approach that fuels more effective alignment around strategic endeavors and attainment of better business outcomes. 

Obstacle 3: Lack of leadership

When asked about obstacles they were confronting, a significant percentage of respondents indicated that “We don’t have leadership buy-in” (15%) and “We don’t have anyone to lead the effort” (11%). This is a logical symptom of the lack of resources many teams are wrestling with.

The lack of executive buy-in leaves teams without the resources they need and that includes leaders who can help direct VSM efforts.

To combat these obstacles, leaders need to be engaged and educated about VSM and why it’s an imperative, including: opportunities, steps required, and payoffs. Only after this happens can leadership be brought to bear in terms of the investments and prioritization required.  

Obstacle 4: Tool proliferation

In the survey, 9% of respondents said tool proliferation is an obstacle to VSM adoption. Rather than being viewed as another tool that compounds these existing problems, VSM platforms can be the integral solution that enables teams to optimize the investments that have already been made. By effectively implementing VSM platforms, teams can create a common language and leverage trusted data to fuel cross-team visibility and insights.

That’s why there’s such momentum behind the move to adopt VSM platforms. The survey found that, between 2021 and 2022, the percentage of respondents piloting, implementing, or considering VSM platforms increased from 6% to 36%.

Conclusion

Although there are undoubtedly obstacles, the reality is that many teams are making major strides. For example, the survey found that 70% of respondents are now connecting flow metrics to business results, which is an integral part of building alignment between business and technology teams.

Visit ValueOps VSM to find out how you can begin to deliver more value to your customers and gain increased visibility and alignment in your organization. 

Digital Transformation

In spite of long-term investments in such disciplines as agile, lean, and DevOps, many teams still encounter significant product challenges. In fact, one survey found teams in 92% of organizations are struggling with delivery inefficiency and a lack of visibility into the product lifecycle.[1] To take the next step in their evolutions, many teams are pursuing Value Stream Management (VSM). Through VSM, teams can establish the capabilities needed to better focus on customer value and optimize their ability to deliver that value.

While the benefits can be significant, there are a number of pitfalls that teams can encounter in their move to harness VSM. These obstacles can stymie progress, and erode the potential rewards that can be realized from a VSM initiative. In this post, I’ll take a look at four common pitfalls we see teams encounter, and provide some insights for avoiding these problems.

Pitfall #1: Missing the value

Very often, we see teams establish value streams that are doomed from inception. Why? Because they’re not centered on the right definition of value.

Too often, teams start with an incomplete or erroneous definition of value. For example, it is common to confuse new application capabilities with value. However, it may be that the features identified aren’t really wanted by customers. They may prefer fewer features, or even an experience in which their needs are addressed seamlessly, so they don’t even have to use the app. The key is to ensure you understand who the customer is and how they define value.

In defining value, teams need to identify the tangible, concrete outcomes that customers can realize. (It is important to note in this context, customers can be employees within the enterprise, as well as external audiences, such as customers and partners.) Benefits can include financial gains, such as improved sales or heightened profitability; enhanced or streamlined capabilities for meeting compliance and regulatory mandates; and improved competitive differentiation. When it comes to crystalizing and pursuing value, objectives and key results (OKRs) can be indispensable. OKRs can help teams gain improved visibility and alignment around value and the outcomes that need to be achieved.

Pitfall #2: Misidentifying value streams

Once teams have established a solid definition of value, it’s critical to gain a holistic perspective on all the people and teams that are needed to deliver that value. Too often, teams are too narrow in their value stream definitions.

Generally, value streams must include teams upstream from product and development, such as marketing and sales, as well as downstream, including support and professional services. The key here is that all value streams are built with customers at the center.

Broadcom

 

Pitfall #3: Focusing on the wrong metrics

While it’s a saying you hear a lot, it is absolutely true: what gets measured gets managed. That’s why it’s so critical to establish effective measurements. In order to do so, focus on these principles:

Prioritize customer value to ensure you’re investing in the right activities.Connect value to execution to ensure you’re building the right things.Align the execution of teams in order to ensure things are built right.

It is important to recognize that data is a foundational element to getting all these efforts right.

It is vital that this data is a natural outcome of value streams — not a separate initiative. Too often, teams spend massive amounts of money and time in aggregating data from disparate resources, and manually cobbling together data in spreadsheets and slides. Further, these manual efforts mean different teams end up looking at different data and findings are out of date. By contrast, when data is generated as a natural output of ongoing work, everyone can be working from current data, and even more importantly, everyone will be working from the same data. This is essential in getting all VSM participants and stakeholders on the same page.

Pitfall #4: Missing the big picture

Often, teams start with too narrow of a scope for their value streams. In reality, these narrow efforts are typically really single-process, business process management (BPM) endeavors. By contrast, value streams represent an end-to-end system for the flow of value, from initial concepts through to the customer’s realization of value. While BPM can be considered a tactical improvement plan, VSM is a strategic improvement plan. Value streams need to be high-level, but defined in such a way that they have metrics that can be associated with them so progress can be objectively monitored.

Tips for navigating the four pitfalls

 Put your clients at the heart of your value streams and strategize around demonstrable and measurable business outcomes.

Value streams are often larger than we think. Have you remembered to include sales, HR, marketing, legal, customer service and professional services in your value stream?

Measure what matters and forget about the rest. We could spend our days elbow deep in measuring the stuff that just doesn’t help move the needle.

 Learn More

To learn more about these pitfalls, and get in-depth insights for architecting an optimized VSM approach in your organization, be sure to check out our webinar, “Four Pitfalls of Value Stream Management and How to Avoid Them.”

[1] Dimensional Research, sponsored by Broadcom, “Value Streams are Accelerating Digital Transformation: A Global Survey of Executives and IT Leaders,” October 2021

Devops, Software Development

By Serge Lucio, Vice President and General Manager, Agile Operations Division, Broadcom Software

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, the fabric of our work lives was radically altered, ushering in a world in which hybrid models were the norm. In 2022, these changes will be solidified and entrenched. Because of this, it is now more critical than ever to address continued demands for agility, while establishing methodologies, tools, and technologies that unite hybrid teams and facilitate new, and better, ways of working.

Meeting these objectives and adapting to new realities simply won’t happen by working in the same way. That’s why the adoption of approaches like value stream management (VSM) has continued to accelerate. For example, according to Broadcom Software’s recent survey of business and IT executives to better understand how they are adapting to the new realities by utilizing value stream management, they are adopting VSM to focus on increasing efficiency (70%), improving product quality (67%), and increasing customer value (63%).

Value stream management: A brief introduction

VSM is a framework that enables new ways of working by helping organizations focus on optimizing the delivery of value to customers.

In the early days, VSM was used across DevOps teams to boost product delivery efficiency by identifying and eliminating waste. Today, top organizations are expanding from their laser focus on efficiency to also include maximizing effectiveness across the enterprise by establishing end-to-end project visibility and funding the initiatives that matter most.

Through the effective adoption of VSM, teams can realize a number of key advantages:

Get to market faster. VSM helps optimize product lifecycles and enables teams to get releases out the door on an agile cadence and make enhancements iteratively so they remain better aligned with evolving customer priorities. Further, teams can deliver value faster than the competition and get revenue sooner.

Build high-quality products that customers value. VSM promotes a user-centric approach, enabling teams to deliver value in short cycles. VSM also promotes the effective integration of customer feedback into the value stream, so teams can effectively align strategy and development work around building what customers want most.

Reduce risk and waste. Teams are contending with significant product development challenges that are stifling their ability to meet key objectives. Teams lack visibility throughout the product lifecycle and struggle with inefficient processes. Through VSM, they can gain a clearer picture of resources, work, and customer requirements, enabling them to make more informed trade-off decisions. By aligning with customer feedback and iterating more quickly, teams can respond more effectively and reduce the risk of expensive market misses.

Collaborate more effectively. Silos continue to represent a persistent challenge for organizations in 2022 and with the expansion of work from anywhere, these challenges aren’t going away. Through VSM, teams can be more fully empowered to build better products and increase productivity. VSM supports alignment between teams through transparency to reduce inefficiencies and improve ROI and business outcomes.

How to get started with VSM

The first step is the creation of a value stream map. Your map will provide details on how work flows through your organization, from idea to customer value. Every step throughout the process needs to be documented to achieve transparency throughout the organization.

As teams are often focused on their own projects and tasks, it becomes helpful for everyone to see the broader picture to understand what is happening in other areas of the business and how things get done. Understanding how critical your contribution is in the value stream helps make better decisions because they understand the impact those decisions have.

Also, VSM technologies can provide transparency and consistency across stakeholders, no matter what their discipline, role or location. Ultimately, this empowers organizations to realize the true value of VSM and helps them maximize the value they deliver to their customers.

Conclusion

VSM is the framework that enables the new ways of working that are required to succeed now. Through well-executed VSM initiatives, organizations can accelerate digital transformation and boost agility, which can, in turn, increase the ROI of products and thus company profitability.

VSM can help establish value-focused teams and align people around customer value. Ultimately, this sets the groundwork for building responsiveness into an organization’s DNA, enabling it to become a market disruptor rather than being the victim of disruption.

To learn more about how Broadcom Software can help you with your digital transformation, contact us here.

About Serge Lucio:

Broadcom Software

Serge Lucio is Vice President and General Manager of the Agile Operations Division at Broadcom Software. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s solutions that help organizations scale their digital transformation by fusing business and IT.

Digital Transformation, IT Leadership