Lean and Agile Supply Chain Management
Different software development methodologies have different approaches to the process of product creation and supply. That is why many software developers wonder about the difference between Lean and Agile supply chains. This issue is definitely worth talking about. That is because of the fact that Lean supply chain strategy may differ significantly from the supply chain strategies of other Agile methodologies. To understand the specific features of supply chains in Lean and Agile, we have to give their full definitions.
Agile is a software development methodology that originated in the early 2000s. It has strongly developed since that time. Now it became an approach to software engineering that includes several methodologies. Agile is a response to the traditional Waterfall software development methodology. Its main idea is to make software engineering projects flexible. Most developers define three principles of Agile methodology: strong customer involvement into the process of software development, strong communication between the team members, and iterative structure of projects.
The degree of customer involvement in all Agile projects is extremely high. Some clients consider this approach inconvenient. However, it is very effective, because it allows the team to react at changes in the client’s requirements immediately. It makes the degree of customer acceptance of Agile products extremely high.
Agile teams are self-managing. They don’t have formal leaders or strict hierarchical structure. Additionally, they are small and all their members are interchangeable. Such structure of Agile teams requires strong communication between their members. Unlike Waterfall developers, they usually work in one office together to have an ability to communicate.
Iterative structure of projects is the main distinctive feature of all Agile methodologies. It means that they don’t have sequential stages with strict order. Iterative structure is also the main principle of the Agile supply chain. The iterations of various Agile methodologies may have some specific features. However, all of them are aimed at performing certain amounts of project tasks within short amounts of time and delivering intermediate products to the customers.
Lean is a methodology that initially originated as a project management method for manufacturing. It was invented in Japan by the managers of Toyota Corporation in the middle of the 20th century. Later the methodology was applied to other industries including software development. The main goal of Lean is to improve the terms of product delivery by eliminating wastes. The definition of waste used in this methodology is quite simple. Anything that does not impact the functionality of the final product positively is considered a waste.
Lean is an Agile software development methodology. That is because of the fact that its projects have iterative structure and its teams are self-managing. However, the supply chains of Lean and other Agile methodologies are somehow different. That is because of the fact that Lean is focused on waste elimination. It means that it uses all Agile practices as means to achieve this goal. In other Agile methodologies these practices are implemented to make the process of software development more flexible. For Lean developers flexibility of the software development process is not a goal. They make their projects flexible because it helps them eliminate wastes. However, in spite of this difference, Lean is an Agile methodology, so it is improper to search for other differences between them.