LEAN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
A primary goal of software development teams is delivering valuable features and products as quickly and effectively as possible. One way they can optimize how quickly they deliver software is by leveraging methodologies such as lean.
SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF LEAN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Lean principles center on the idea that less is more, and they aim to streamline every part of the software development lifecycle. The concept is that efficiencies can be applied and waste can be managed at all levels: each individual, every department, interdepartmental operations, the organization as a whole, and the relationships of the organization with customers and suppliers.
Lean development can be summarized by seven principles, very close in concept to lean manufacturing principles:
The first principle of lean software development is to eliminate waste. Some obvious forms of waste include time spent building, analyzing, or designing features that won’t be used; or time spent supporting software and fixing bugs. Extra features like paperwork and features not often used by customers are waste. Switching people between tasks is waste. Waiting for other activities, teams, processes is waste. Relearning required to complete work is waste. Defects and lower quality are waste. Managerial overhead not producing real value is waste.
Software development is a continuous learning process based on iterations when writing code. Software design is a problem-solving process involving the developers writing the code and what they have learned. Software value is measured in fitness for use and not in conformance to requirements. Instead of adding more documentation or detailed planning, different ideas could be tried by writing code and building. The process of user requirements gathering could be simplified by presenting screens to the end-users and getting their input. The accumulation of defects should be prevented by running tests as soon as the code is written. The learning process is sped up by usage of short iteration cycles – each one coupled with refactoring and integration testing. Increasing feedback via short feedback sessions with customers helps when determining the current phase of development and adjusting efforts for future improvements.
Decide as late as possible
As software development is always associated with some uncertainty, better results should be achieved with a set-based or options-based approach, delaying decisions as much as possible until they can be made based on facts and not on uncertain assumptions and predictions. The more complex a system is, the more capacity for change should be built into it, thus enabling the delay of important and crucial commitments. The iterative approach promotes this principle – the ability to adapt to changes and correct mistakes, which might be very costly if discovered after the release of the system.
Deliver as fast as possible:
In the era of rapid technology evolution, it is not the biggest that survives, but the fastest. The sooner the end product is delivered without major defects, the sooner feedback can be received, and incorporated into the next iteration. The shorter the iterations, the better the learning and communication within the team. With speed, decisions can be delayed. Speed assures the fulfilling of the customer's present needs and not what they required yesterday. This gives them the opportunity to delay making up their minds about what they really require until they gain better knowledge. Customers value rapid delivery of a quality product.
Empower the team:
There has been a traditional belief in most businesses about the decision-making in the organization – the managers tell the workers how to do their own job. In a work-out technique, the roles are turned – the managers are taught how to listen to the developers, so they can explain better what actions might be taken, as well as provide suggestions for improvements. The lean approach follows the agile principle "build projects around motivated individuals [...] and trust them to get the job done", encouraging progress, catching errors, and removing impediments, but not micro-managing.
Build integrity in:
The second principle of lean software is to build quality in. The primary purpose of building quality into a piece of software is to avoid having to rework it later. If we don’t produce high-quality software in the first place, then we’ll end up having to put out fires after it’s been released, while also juggling our new work. Another name for this workflow detractor is “task switching,” which is an explicit form of lean waste because these kinds of distractions can be costly.
Optimize the Whole:
The seventh and last principle of lean software is to optimize the whole. This principle acknowledges the need to take a holistic view of the software development process in order to make improvements. Software is comprised of many individuals completing their part of the chain. However, to achieve true effectiveness, you must optimize across all of the work completed.
SHOULD YOU USE LEAN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT?
Many organizations have found the LSD methodology to be an excellent approach to software development because of its streamlining of the process and forcing the team to ruthlessly cut away any activity that doesn’t directly affect the final product. But an organization must have an outstanding development team, and trust that team implicitly, for this approach to be successful.