It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with lean concepts that the methodology eventually found its way into software development. Today, lean and agile are commonly encountered words in programming circles, and many modern programmers pride themselves in their ability to follow the principles outlined in both of those fields, allowing them to deliver quality products in a measured manner.
And even though lean has been altered and adapted to the specific nature of software development in order to work better for this purpose, at its core, it’s still the same. Anyone familiar with lean methodologies should immediately recognize the core values of the philosophy in any typical list of lean software practices, and they should also know how to translate those into actionable items that they can execute in their workflow.
Waste in Software Development
One of the biggest problems in any type of software development is waste. Developer resources are commonly utilized incorrectly, leading to multiple rounds of repeating the same task, changing minor requirements, and in some of the worse cases, throwing out the whole project and starting over from scratch.
On the other hand, improperly designed software can be very wasteful of users’ resources, and even though some developers don’t put this in the same category as traditional waste in production, it’s just as bad when you consider the impact on your company’s standing on the market.
By following solid lean principles, a software development team can ensure that they bring waste down to a minimum, while also improving the overall quality of the products they deliver. Another core component of lean methodologies in software development is that decisions should be made as late as possible – that is, anything involving the requirements of the project shouldn’t be planned too meticulously from the start.
Which, at its core, is just another technique for avoiding waste. You’ll sooner or later start to see this pattern all over lean software development guides, and the better your developers understand the concept, the more solid your software products will be.
Don’t Forget Agile!
Some people confuse lean and agile and lump them in the same category, especially when it comes to software developers, but there are some significant differences between the two camps that have to be observed. Both philosophies do emphasize rapid iteration and quick delivery of successful, functional results, and this is definitely something to pay attention to if you’re having trouble in the final stages of project delivery.
Agile tends to emphasize more on rapidly iterating on an idea, which can sometimes create a little waste, but nothing that can’t be controlled through some careful planning. Agile also places a significant emphasis on ensuring that you can keep up with your current pace of development in the future, instead of burning out after a short, but quick burst.
Another important aspect of agile is that you should take as many decisions as possible in face-to-face meetings instead of communicating over other channels. This might not sound directly related to building a product, but it does play a major role in understanding what your clients want to accomplish with the project exactly, allowing you to prevent a lot of waste from being created when you implement something you didn’t understand correctly in the first place.
Getting Everyone on Board
It can be difficult to make programmers follow lean and agile practices, especially if you have some more experienced people on your team who have been practicing for a longer period of time. These styles of development were very unpopular some time ago, and it will take even more time before they become the default way of teaching programming.
But the sooner you ensure that your developers know what lean and agile are, and how to follow them in their work, the better improvements you’re going to see in the overall quality of the output of those developers, and subsequently, the better your clients’ satisfaction will be. In the end, what truly matters is that you are able to deliver products that work according to their requirements, and know how to adjust them later.