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What is Lean Software Development? Definition and Principles

Not surprisingly, U.S. companies began trying to catch up with the Japanese during the early 1990s. Womack and Jones detail how Pratt & Whitney’s blade grinding operations for jet engines were able to steadily identify and eliminate both waste and process interruptions using the techniques that Ohno had instilled in the Toyota Production System. With those techniques, Pratt & Whitney was able to rapidly eliminate an $80 million backlog of part shipments and cut its inventory levels and manufacturing costs in half while doubling labor productivity.

  • Adapted from the Toyota Production System,[1] it is emerging with the support of a pro-lean subculture within the agile community.
  • A lean product development approach relies on a streamlined product development process to mitigate risk, reduce bottlenecks, and create efficient workflows.
  • However, once you’re past the “break-in period” with lean, you begin to realize its benefits.
  • Lean software development relies on tools such as Refactoring, Test Driven Development, Pair programming, incremental development and feedback, and makes use of automation wherever possible.

No, even large project or job shops doing one-time engineering have defined processes, reusable components, and aspects of their production model that are quite repeatable. And for building (not running) systems, if we are seeking industrial analogies, then we need to look upstream of the manufacturing operation to product development. There, with its market research, focus groups, prototyping, investigating new materials and techniques, evaluating design alternatives and tradeoffs, we find a very different world from the stereotyped shop floor.

Continuous deployment (only for software development)

Many organizations also leverage project management software to eliminate waste. In manufacturing and the Toyota Production System, the underlying principles are known as the Toyta Way. In the 2003 book Lean Software Development, authors Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck organized and articulated these principles around software development, creating the seven fundamental principles of lean software development. The product concepts we identified during Visioning and the Cool Drilldown will usually be your starting point for these themes.

lean product development software

Taking a customer-first approach is a principle of lean because it ensures that every feature you launch will serve your audience, without wasting time and resources working on something customers don’t truly need. It helps reduce the time and effort spent on tasks that don’t really benefit customers. Effective, efficient innovation includes knowing which processes are worth investing in, what can be done without, and how to do it all with relative ease. Lean principles are rooted in respect, and the implementation of these values can be challenging. Lean is based on respect for the customer, employees, and the organization. This is what makes it easy to set up in theory, but difficult to implement in practice.

Dashboards for Continuous Monitoring of Quality for Software Product under Development

Lean product development is all about building an environment of continuous iteration, ideation, and learning through analysis. Toyota created a system that minimizes waste while maximizing value for the customer. Toyota’s values have been applied to software, consumer goods, and other manufacturing processes since then. Technology has created a society of instant gratification, and it’s affecting businesses and product teams, too.

lean product development software

Lean product development is a process for building products faster with less waste. It improves upon traditional product development processes by eliminating the communication silos that typically separate departments. All teams in lean organizations work on the product from beginning to end, which allows the product to evolve and improve. In software development – and project management for software development – you can use several approaches to create successful products. Lean development is one approach that has gained popularity in recent years. Lean development is based on the principle of continuous improvement, or Kaizen.

Results of lean product development

The same principles apply to lean product development for software — get more done with fewer resources. But it requires a considerable amount of focus to accomplish; your team will need to understand exactly what they’re responsible for at every stage of the product development lifecycle. Lean product development also places an emphasis on continuous learning; as your team analyzes each iteration of the product and adjusts according to those insights, they’ll gain more expertise and knowledge along the way. The User Environment Design structure and the contextual data help with this thinking—along with real communication and collaboration across your cross-functional product team. Companies that compete with others on speed generally have a cost advantage over their competitors. If a company strives for repeatable and predictable delivery speed, they must also focus on quality and customer understanding.

lean product development software

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