Lean Software Development: Project Planning, Monitoring and Control
The process of project management in software development is always similar regardless of the methodology you use. Nevertheless, it still has some specific features in some methods. In this article we will describe the process of Lean project monitoring and control. Before doing that we have to give the definition of Lean software development methodology and explain the nature of project control.
Lean is one of Agile software development methodologies. Its history began in the middle of 20th century in Japan. The method was invented as a new system of manufacturing by the managers of Toyota Corporation. At that time the company had serious problems with delivery of its production. Its manufacturing chains required simplification. The new methodology of project management was called Toyota production system. Soon it became popular among the enterprises all over the world. After that its name was changed to Lean manufacturing. Today the method is widely used in various fields including software development. It came to software engineering in 2003 when Mary and Tom Poppendieck published their famous book “Lean Software Development”. Its main idea was to describe seven principles of Lean methodology and apply them to software engineering. The new method succeeded. It is considered one of the Agile methodologies because of the sequential structure of its projects. Additionally, it requires self-managing teams and strong customer involvement into the process of project realization. Such approach to software development is just what Lean developers need because waste elimination is the main principle of this methodology. It is much simpler to eliminate everything that does not contribute to the functionality of the final product if your projects have iterative structure.
Project control is the third and the last stage of project management process. It is common for all software development methodologies. Other two stages of project management cycle are called project planning and project monitoring. Project planning usually takes place at the initial stages of any software development project. Its main goal is to create a realistic plan that defines the tasks of the team for the entire project. Project monitoring or project tracking is a process that is conducted constantly during the period of project realization. It is aimed at detecting all problems with plan implementation. These problems are eliminated at the stage of project control. After that, the final or intermediate product is tested to make sure that the problems with project realization didn’t impact it negatively.
The first thing we should know about Lean project control is that the cycle of project management in Lean is the same as the project management cycles of other methodologies. However, unlike traditional Waterfall software development projects that include only one project management cycle, Lean projects may include several of them. That can be explained by their iterative structure. Usually Lean projects have a separate project management cycle for each iteration. The process of project control in Lean is also similar to project control in other software development methodologies. It is subdivided in two stages at the first stage all problems with project realization and plan implementation are removed. The wastes are also eliminated at this stage. After that the intermediate or final product is tested to make sure that it is ready to delivery. As you can see, the process of Lean project control is not complex. However, it requires high qualification.