Feedback in Lean Methodology
Feedback is one of the typical aspects of Agile approach to software development. The teams of various Agile methodologies use feedback to improve the quality of their products and to create new versions of them. Lean is no exception. In this article we will tell you about feedback in Lean methodology. But it is necessary to describe the method itself before doing that.
Lean originated in Japan in the middle of the 20th century. It was invented by the managers of Toyota Corporation. The company had great problems with product delivery at that time. Its manufacturing chains were too long and it did not meet the terms of its projects. That is why its managers invented a new manufacturing methodology and called it Toyota production system. The method changed its name for Lean manufacturing after it became popular all over the world. In 2003 Tom and Mary Poppendieck published their first book “Lean Software Development”. That was the time when a new software engineering methodology originated. Its main idea is to improve the terms of product delivery through waste elimination. It is not a simple issue, but the methodology has its own definition of wastes. Some software developers consider it quite weird, but it is very effective. In Lean any action that does not add functionality to the final product is considered a waste. That is the reason why Lean is an Agile methodology. It needs to have iterative structure of projects to eliminate wastes after each cycle.
The process of testing is also extremely important for Lean teams. Usually they prefer to avoid bugs instead of fixing them. However, it is quite hard to create a software product that does not contain bugs. That is why Lean developers fix them at early stages. The degree of customer involvement in Lean is high like in other Agile methodologies. The client participates in all team meetings and estimates the intermediate products after each iterative cycle. The structure of Lean teams is similar to the structure of Scrum teams. They are small and self-managing. Such teams do not include many roles that are typical for traditional software development methodology, like testers, project managers, and analysts. All their members are interchangeable. That is the reason for strong communication between the Lean team members.
Now as we understand what Lean is, we can start discussing the issue of feedback in this methodology.
Like the members of other Agile teams, Lean developers often need feedback to improve the quality of their products. There are two types of feedback in Lean: customer feedback, and user feedback. Lean teams get customer feedback to their production after each iterative cycle when they show the intermediate products to their clients. They also can get user feedback by conducting user acceptance tests. During these tests the final users detect all bugs in the software products and estimate them according to their own acceptance criteria. Customer and user feedbacks are the best means to understand the advantages and disadvantages of your software products.