IDG Contributor Network: How next-generation tools are impacting your software supply chain


You can’t build and scale a world-class IT capability in a vacuum.

To optimize the delivery of software products, you need a holistic view of the software supply chain. This means looking at how the activities that create software are connected with operations in the rest of the business.

Those connections are significant business opportunities, and a number of tool categories have formed at these business-IT intersections with innovative functions that allow you to achieve ground-breaking new operational efficiencies.

Evolved software products are now being built using these software supply chain tools.

, you want to maximize the network effects of the relationships between activities, identifying interesting ways to build connections and enhance interactions, ways that are unique to the world of software products.

Although all software products are built using a supply chain, you will see in the third example that software-as-a-service (SaaS) products are especially suited for supply chain thinking. The managed service delivered through a subscription-based model means that the operations of the business are uniquely coupled with the customer experience.

When you follow the path of applying this model, new tool categories emerge that optimize operations and deliver incredible value to customers. Three such categories are below.

Value stream management

A new breed of web API-based integration tooling gives you the power to integrate life cycle planning tools across the value streams of your software supply chain to create a steady flow of work. (VSM) is the discipline around using thesetools used to orchestrate that information flow. VSM seeks to intelligently connect processes and move work among teams by integrating the tools used to capture knowledge and guide decisions. VSM tools are just now emerging as a critical category for achieving scaled software delivery organization.

Without value stream management, the overhead involved in connecting lifecycle activities is enormous—at an organizational level, it means an endless number of meetings, spreadsheets, emails, and appointments, and at the individual level it involves inefficiency and wastes from double data entry, tool juggling, and context switching acrobatics. VSM leverages the fact that all this information already exists, it is stored in artifacts in the tools you use to manage your work—Salesforce, Jira, Microsoft Project, ServiceNow, GitHub, and more.

By connecting and integrating the artifacts stored in your tools through a central hub, your entire activity chain becomes connected and integrated, and the flow of product-critical information to be controlled and managed effectively.

Of course, most vendors provide some kind of point-to-point integration, but these do not allow you to achieve the kind of central, system-level control you need to do value-stream management. Likewise, the process of building and maintaining long-running, high-fidelity integrations using web APIs can be difficult and frustrating due to their poor documentation and unexpected behaviors. For many organizations, this is an area ripe for outsourcing, using the skills of a dedicated third party that specializes in innovating on the integrations space.

Component management

According to the 2017 State of the Software Supply Chain report, open source components can comprise up to 80 percent of modern software. But these components come with major headaches from the risk they create for both your customers and your own business.