“Revolutions” in the field of software development seem to come out nearly every month. Over time, some disappear while others seize the initiative and gain popularity. Lean Software Development Methodology is one such revolution that has been around for a few years.
Although there are currently not many businesses using lean software development, the number is rising quickly and rapidly expanding.
Lean software development is an adaptable process for creating and sustaining successful products. It follows the Lean Manufacturing approach principles developed in Toyota in the 1940s. Most automobile companies like Ford and Nissan practice this methodology.
It’s a ‘value-driven approach to handling software development projects that provide the best possible solution to meet customer needs and run a sustainable business. It helps organizations build new features and functionality with less time, money, resources, etc.
It’s worth devoting time, money, and effort to the Lean implementation if you struggle with delivering value in a timely manner. It’s worth it when you want to develop products faster, and in the meantime increase their quality. It’s also worth it when you want to save money and maximize the efficiency of your development team.
Some of the advantages of Lean are the following:
- Collaboration. Lean principles amplify learning and respect to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing and avoid bottlenecks. Teams are empowered to make their own decisions and work together in the decision-making process.
- Continuous improvement. Lean includes what many call the modern software development process. The workflow incorporates constant communication with customers and steady feedback. This enables continuous improvement, or Kaizen, in all parts of the operation.
- Efficiency. Demand for software is exploding, and companies cannot deliver apps fast enough. The Lean approach eliminates waste and delivers software fast, making development organizations more efficient and cutting costs.
- Flexibility. The Lean methodology incorporates flexibility, while still prioritizing speed in the software development lifecycle. It leaves room for change and lets developers alter products based on continuous feedback.
- Quality. Lean’s efficiency, continuous improvement, flexibility, and collaboration result in an overall improvement in product quality and an increase in customer satisfaction.
What are The 7 Lean Software Development Principles?
Understanding the seven lean software development principles helps in decision-making. You can apply all of them in your software product development process:
1. Waste Elimination
It is one of the essential things your production partner must focus on. Here, waste refers to things that don’t significantly affect the quality of the developmental strategies and the end products. Ensure that your hired software developers fix any repetition or irrelevant items in the software development process.
To be precise, here are a few things you can resolve:
- Unwanted feature code
- Code errors
- Vague demands
- More steps in the logs than can be completed
- Delays in the engineering system
- Inadequate communication
- Issues with the quality
- Data replication
2. Building Quality In
It’s not enough to eliminate waste as the waste might go undetected. It can later spread in your team and affect other parts of your development process. The best way to handle this is through building quality in:
- Asking questions about the product
- Inspecting code for any defects
- Maintaining a clean code
- Maintaining a sustainable pace for the team members
- Assessing any risks in advance
- Encouraging Knowledge sharing within the team
Lean development is all about quality. It’s not only about building applications of ultimate quality but about creating a process that will improve software quality on an ongoing basis. Its main idea is to prevent any issues and fix them as soon as they’re spotted.
Developers will develop more reliable software in the long run. As a result, quality assurance processes will become much easier to handle and maintain.
Besides, Lean methodologies work great for project management since all documentation is concise and straightforward. This way, the entire workflow becomes much easier to handle and more sustainable in the long run.
3. Amplifying Knowledge
Lean programming also enhances team spirit and togetherness and automates repetitive work processes. Thus, it spares engineers’ time to disseminate their experiences to each other. Lean software development methodology focuses on quality from day one. As a result, teams can build great applications that will last for years. It means your customers won’t be affected by any bugs or errors.
It even offers excellent tools for managers to plan the team’s workflow. Each person’s capacity is considered, so engineers won’t be overloaded with tasks.
4. Delaying Commitment
Not locking into a group of technologies and choices means that the lean methodology is flexible. It allows working with networking components, databases, and frameworks. There will be no problems if an engineer decides to use Spring for some part of the code and Java EE 7 for another. They can do so without hassle, as Lean assumes such liberty is fundamental.
It is worth adding that the business only agrees to pay for the working product. So the project will be over only when all the tried-and-tested options have been implemented successfully. With Lean, there are no wasted resources.
5. Fast Delivery
Lean is speedy. It allows for saving months by avoiding things that are not critical, and focusing on essentials only. Businesses can perform several stages simultaneously. So there’s no need to waste time on long preparations or interim evaluations. It will speed up the process if all the team members have worked together.
Lean methodology is also lightweight, so any project will get a kick-start with it. That way, it is possible to deliver the minimum viable product (MVP) at an early stage while the need for further development is still being analyzed.
Lean development methodology may sometimes be risky for the business since it can mean the product will not have all its essential features implemented. Hence, using the method for projects where an MVP is sufficient is good.
6. Respecting the Team
Lean development takes into account that people are more important than tools. The team must not be micromanaged, nor there be any strict controls on the workflow’s individual. It is better to trust engineers and learn from their own mistakes.
Lean encourages excellent communication within the team, so each member’s opinion can significantly influence the final result. It has great potential for team building. Here all members are involved in planning the workflow and deciding the next development steps. This way, engineers can get to know each other better and work more efficiently.
Lean development is more demanding for the team’s motivation since engineers must be left alone to work with whatever tools they want.
7. Optimizing the Complete Value Stream
Lean methodology is a very flexible tool that can optimize various processes. In the case of software development, it covers everything from communication with stakeholders to project management and improvement of code quality.
Lean development also encourages testing as many times as possible – from unit tests within an application down to end-to-end tests responsible for checking the work of an entire application as a whole.
The lean methodology can be applied to any business, as it is not followed slavishly. Its measures may vary depending on the requirements of every given project.
Lean makes developers look at their work differently, teaching them to consider all the possible risks and problems during development. By doing that, lean methodologies make the software more reliable and sustainable in the long run.
How to Start Implementing Lean
Although Lean implementation is a complex process and a significant change for the organization, you can start by using a few general tips on how to implement it.
Step 1: Define goals
The first step is to define the goals of Lean implementation and find answers to the questions:
- Why do we want to implement Lean?
- What do we want to achieve?
- Which areas do we want to improve?
This will help you to get a clear overview of your objectives and to gain the right focus during the lean implementation process.
Step 2: Educate the team
The next step is educating your team on the Lean goals, specifics, and principles. This is typically the most difficult and long-lasting process, especially within mature, established organizations that aren’t used to working in Lean culture. To make this process run smoothly, you can seek the help of an experienced transformation or Lean implementation partner.
Step 3: Start implementing the Lean software development process
- Specify the value. Define what’s the value for your customer. What are the customer’s expectations from the final product and what needs to be done and achieved to meet them?
- Map value stream. After defining the value, it’s time to map it. Mapping is the process of defining the current and future state of the project. You need to specify necessary tasks related to problem-solving, information management, and transformation. This stage involves also identifying waste.
- Design flow. To improve efficiency, it’s helpful to create a value stream flow that outlines the remaining steps of the process. This can involve getting rid of unnecessary steps and addressing any bottlenecks. It’s also important to educate employees about the Lean approach so that everyone is on the same page and can work together effectively.
- Establish pull. This step involves prioritizing tasks and assigning them to developers. In the process, the tasks are queued in the right order, and team members autonomously proceed to the most urgent ones from the top of the list. By doing that, you can reduce waiting time and ensure the highest possible efficiency.
- Prepare for constant improvements. Last but not least, Lean implementation is about constantly questioning the status quo, seeking opportunities, and understanding that nothing in the process is set and defined once and forever.
It is possible to deploy Lean principles in each production stage. Let’s find out how the principles suit each step of software development:
Lean encourages doing business with concrete requirements. This way, the customer learns the final product earlier, eliminating the risk of working on unnecessary things.
Lean improves this phase by focusing on reducing waste and maximizing value through early identification of risks. It allows for better precise estimations and makes it easier to determine if we can deliver them in time.
Lean recommends doing things right first by improving quality and removing waste. This way, engineers will not need to fix problems that could have been prevented, reducing the testing time and effort needed to fix bugs at a later stage of development.
The Lean methodology helps engineers by pushing them to continuously improve their work and decrease bugs in the code. This way, Lean allows teams to work more efficiently without worrying about mistakes made later in development.
The lean approach to testing is to find bugs as soon as possible. You can focus on reducing waste and validating assumptions made earlier through regular checkups.
Lean principles encourage customers to get involved at any development step to ensure that they are getting the features that matter the most. This way, it will be simpler for engineers to prioritize the tasks and provide value faster.
Software development is a complicated process that can be made easier with lean principles. This way, teams can better use the resources and offer higher quality for customers. Besides, Lean satisfies customers’ needs by ensuring they are involved in the project from start to finish. Hence, there are no uncertainties or surprises in the end.