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Building Better Solutions: How SAFe Development Value Streams Drive Efficiency

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Efficiency and speed are crucial for business success. Value streams, integral to Lean thinking and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), play a pivotal role in achieving these goals. By focusing on the sequence of activities required to deliver value, organizations streamline processes and boost productivity. 

What are Development Value Streams? 

Development Value Streams (DVS) are a sequence of activities that convert a business idea into a digital solution delivering customer value. In the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), DVS focuses on the processes involved in developing and supporting the products and services that operational teams deliver to customers. 

Distinction Between Development Value Streams and Operational Value Streams (OVS) 

Development Value Streams (DVS): 

  • Focus on the creation and support of products and services. 
  • Involve teams of developers, product managers, engineers, and IT professionals. 
  • Aim to transform business hypotheses into tangible solutions. 

Operational Value Streams (OVS): 

  • Focus on delivering products or services to customers. 
  • Include activities like manufacturing, order fulfillment, patient care, and professional services. 
  • Utilize the solutions created by DVS to meet customer needs. 

Understanding the distinction between DVS and OVS helps organizations optimize both streams, ensuring efficient development processes and high-quality service delivery.  

The Significance of Organizing Around DVS 

Organizing teams around Development Value Streams (DVS) is a strategic approach that enhances workflow efficiency by aligning every step with the goal of delivering high-quality products/services. 

Benefits of Organizing Teams Around DVS 

  • Stable and Long-Lived Teams: Teams dedicated to a specific value stream become more stable and cohesive. This stability enhances collaboration and fosters a deeper understanding of the product or service being developed. 
  • Visibility and Transparency: Organizing around DVS helps identify and visualize all the work necessary to produce solutions. This transparency makes it easier to spot delays, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies in the process. 
  • Smaller Batch Sizes: Teams can focus on smaller, more manageable batches of work. This approach reduces lead times and enables more frequent delivery of value to customers. 
  • Continuous Learning and Improvement: A dedicated focus on a single value stream promotes continuous learning and improvement. Teams can quickly adapt to changes and implement best practices. 
  • Aligned Funding Models: Shifting from traditional project-based budgets to value stream-based funding aligns financial resources directly with the delivery of customer value. This shift ensures that investments are made where they can have the most significant impact. 

Structure and Components of a DVS 

Understanding the structure and components of a Development Value Stream (DVS) is crucial for optimizing the development process. Each element of a DVS plays a specific role in transforming a business idea into a valuable product or service. 

Detailed Breakdown of DVS Elements 

  • Triggers: These are events that initiate the value stream. Triggers can be new customer requests, market demands, or internal business needs. They set the development process in motion. 
  • Steps: These are the activities required to define, build, validate, and release the solution. Each step adds value and moves the product closer to completion.  
  • Handoffs and Information Flow: These occur when information or materials are passed from one step to another. Efficient handoffs ensure that critical information is transferred accurately and promptly, reducing the risk of errors and delays. 
  • Delays: These are periods where progress is halted, often due to waiting for approvals, resources, or information. Identifying and minimizing delays is essential for reducing lead times and increasing efficiency. 

Example of a Simplified DVS Structure 

To illustrate, consider a simplified DVS for developing a new software feature: 

  1. Trigger: A customer requests a new feature. 
  2. Definition: The product manager defines the feature requirements. 
  3. Build: The development team codes the feature. 
  4. Validate: The quality assurance team tests the feature. 
  5. Release: The feature is deployed to the production environment. 

Handoffs and Information Flow: 

  • After the product manager defines the requirements, they hand off the specifications to the development team. 
  • Once the coding is complete, the development team hands off the feature to the quality assurance team for testing. 
  • After successful testing, the feature is handed off to the operations team for deployment. 


  • Waiting for requirement approval. 
  • Waiting for test results. 
  • Waiting for deployment scheduling. 

By breaking down the DVS into these components and understanding their roles, organizations can streamline their development processes, reduce lead times, and deliver high-quality solutions more efficiently. 

Role of a SAFe Portfolio in Defining and Governing DVS 

A SAFe Portfolio outlines and oversees the set of DVS within an organization. It provides a structured approach to manage multiple value streams, ensuring they are aligned with the business goals and strategies. Key responsibilities include: 

  • Defining DVS: Establishing the scope, objectives, and boundaries of each development value stream. 
  • Governing DVS: Implementing policies and practices to ensure value streams operate efficiently and effectively. 
  • Aligning with Business Strategy: Ensuring that all DVS activities support the broader business mission and objectives. 

Support Through Lean Budgets and Guardrails 

SAFe Portfolios support DVS through Lean Budgets and Guardrails. These financial and operational guidelines empower teams to make decisions that optimize economic value: 

  • Lean Budgets: Allocate funding based on the value streams’ contribution to business objectives. This approach provides flexibility and reduces the administrative burden associated with traditional project-based funding. 
  • Guardrails: Set boundaries for spending and decision-making. Guardrails ensure that financial and operational practices align with organizational goals, promoting accountability and transparency. 

Measuring and Improving DVS Performance 

Measuring and improving the performance of Development Value Streams is essential for maintaining high efficiency and quality. Using specific metrics and tools, organizations can continuously enhance their development processes. 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) 

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Metrics used to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of DVS. Common KPIs include lead time, cycle time, and defect rates. These indicators provide insights into how well the value stream is functioning and highlight areas for improvement. 
  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs): A goal-setting framework that helps teams align their efforts with strategic objectives. OKRs define clear, measurable goals and track progress toward achieving them. This approach ensures that all activities within the DVS contribute to broader business goals. 

Value Stream Mapping for Measuring and Improving Delivery Velocity and Quality 

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a powerful tool for analyzing and optimizing DVS. It involves mapping out all the steps in the value stream to identify bottlenecks, delays, and inefficiencies. Key benefits of VSM include: 

  • Identifying Waste: Pinpointing non-value-added activities that can be eliminated or improved. 
  • Enhancing Flow: Streamlining processes to ensure a smooth and efficient flow of value. 
  • Improving Delivery Velocity: Reducing lead times and cycle times to accelerate time to market. 
  • Boosting Quality: Ensuring that each step in the value stream contributes to the overall quality of the final product. 

Importance of Continuous Delivery Pipeline and DevOps Practices 

The Continuous Delivery Pipeline in DVS integrates automated processes that streamline software delivery from development to deployment. DevOps practices enhance collaboration between development and operations teams, automating build, test, and deployment processes to accelerate delivery while ensuring reliability.  

 They enable Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), facilitating swift updates and reducing time to market. Additionally, DevOps practices incorporate automated testing for early issue detection and resolution, improving product quality, and promote cross-functional collaboration to foster shared responsibility and continuous improvement across teams. 

Predictable Delivery of Innovation and Value 

The ultimate goal of optimizing DVS with Continuous Improvement practices is to achieve predictable delivery of innovation and value. Predictability ensures that businesses can: 

  • Meet Customer Expectations: Deliver products and services on time and with expected features, enhancing customer satisfaction. 
  • Manage Risk Effectively: Identify and mitigate potential risks early in the development cycle, reducing project uncertainty. 
  • Optimize Resource Allocation: Allocate resources more efficiently based on predictable timelines and outcomes. 
  • Drive Business Growth: Continuously deliver value to customers, gaining a competitive edge in the market and fostering business growth. 


In conclusion, Development Value Streams (DVS) are pivotal in achieving enterprise agility and delivering value to customers effectively. By organizing teams around DVS, leveraging SAFe principles, and integrating Continuous Improvement practices like Continuous Delivery Pipeline and DevOps, businesses can streamline their development processes and enhance productivity.
 Adopting modern tools such as Prakya (, an AI-driven Agile Work Management Platform, further empowers teams to optimize their workflows, foster collaboration, and achieve greater efficiency in delivering innovative solutions. Embracing these strategies not only ensures organizations remain competitive but also drives sustained growth and customer satisfaction in today’s dynamic market landscape.

Reference: Development Value Streams – Scaled Agile Framework