Lean Tools Overview
There are lots of software development methodologies today. Some of them are sequential. Others are rather iterative. But regardless of their principles, all of them have the same goal – to create high quality software products. Modern technology allows software developers to simplify their work processes by using project management tools. It is hard to imagine a software development team that does not use these applications. Lean teams are not exceptions. In this article we will tell you about Lean project management tools and their functional features. But we should remember the definition of Lean methodology before doing that.
The first thing you should know about Lean is that it is one of the Agile methodologies. These methods are based on strong customer involvement, iterative structure of projects, and strong communication inside of software development teams.
Initially Lean was invented as a manufacturing methodology. It originated in the middle of the 20th century in the famous Japanese corporation Toyota. At that time the managers of Toyota Motors needed to eliminate the wastes of the company and improve the terms of product delivery. Therefore, they have invented Lean manufacturing system. Some researchers still call it “Toyota Production System”. Most modern scientists and entrepreneurs agree that Lean is extremely efficient in manufacturing, because Toyota is now one of the largest motor companies in the world.
Lean project management system was applied to software development in 2003. Tom and Mary Poppendieck – the authors of a book “Lean Software Development” – have implemented the principles of Lean methodology in software engineering. The new method showed good results. Its main principle is: eliminate the wastes to improve the terms of delivery. Lean software development uses some practices of Extreme Programming, like test-driven development and pair programming. Most programmers agree that lean can use any practices, if they are useful and help improving the product or terms of its delivery. The definition of wastes in lean is very simple. Anything, that does not impact the functionality of the final software product, or impacts it negatively, is a waste.
Now, as we know what Lean methodology is, let’s return to the initial topic of our article and discuss Lean project management tools.
What are Lean tools?
The answer is quite simple. Any application that is used by Lean developers to manage their projects or simplify their work is considered a Lean tool.
Why is it necessary to use lean tools?
In Lean, anything that does not contribute to the functionality of final product is a waste. It means that if you spend too much time for managing your project – you produce wastes. Lean tools are aimed at saving your time for other tasks by automating the process of project management.
Usually Lean project management tools are subdivided into two large categories: paid applications and free tools. Both of them are capable of visualizing the workflow of Lean teams in various forms like charts, tables, and diagrams. It is necessary to see the progress of work and to define unnecessary actions.
Some developers prefer to use paid Lean tools because of their wider functionality. However, most of them are stationary applications. It means that you have to download them to your computer before using them.
Free Lean project management applications are available online. Some people consider this fact their biggest advantage. Additionally, most of them have extremely intuitive interfaces. This feature is very important for software developers.