Why Is It Necessary to Choose Lean Methodology?
There are lots of methodologies in modern software development industry. Some of them are well known. Others are not so popular. However, all of them are aimed at creating high quality software products. In this article we will answer the question: “Why is it necessary to choose Lean methodology to manage your project?” This is not a simple question, so we have to give the full definition of Lean and describe its features before answering it.
Who invented Lean methodology?
Lean originated in the middle of the 20th century. It was invented by the managers of a famous Japanese motor corporation Toyota. At that time the company had big problems with product delivery. Its manufacturing chain was too long and included lots of unnecessary stages. That is why the managers of the company have invented Lean methodology. Initially it was called Toyota production system, but it changed its name after it became popular all over the world. Now it is called Lean manufacturing. The main idea of Lean is to improve the terms of product delivery by eliminating wastes. Lean has its own definition of wastes. It is quite simple. However, it allows detecting wastes effectively. Anything that does not impact the functionality of the final product is considered a waste in Lean. Perhaps that is the main reason why Lean is applicable to software development industry.
Lean is now widely used in various fields including software engineering. It was applied to software development industry in 2003 when two famous Lean researchers Tom and Mary Poppendieck published their first book “Lean Software Development”. It still remains topical . The main idea of the book was to describe the principles of Lean methodology and implement them in software development. Most modern researchers define seven Lean principles. There is no need to cover all of them in this article. It is enough to say that flexibility of project tasks and respect to the team members are the main of them. That is why Lean is an Agile methodology. Its projects have iterative structure. It is just what Lean developers need to manage them. That can be explained by the fact that they need to throw out unnecessary processes after every iteration. Additionally, iterative structure of projects allows Lean developers to test their products after each cycle. It is very important, because Lean teams are focused on quality of their production. Usually they try to avoid defects instead of fixing them. However, it is almost impossible to create a software product that does not contain bugs. That is why Lean developers prefer to detect them at early stages.
Lean team is one more aspect of Lean methodology that is worth talking about. Most developers agree that Lean teams are typical Agile teams. They are small. Usually such teams include less than 15 people. The members of Lean teams are interchangeable. That is because of the fact that Lean methodology has only the most necessary roles in its teams. It has no business analysts, testers and project managers. That is why every Lean developer should be capable of performing their functions. Lean teams have no strict hierarchical structure. They are self-managing. It means that they don’t have formal leaders. We have already mentioned that there are no project managers in Lean teams. Each Lean project is managed by the entire team. Such approach is effective only if all team members are high qualified and the communication between them is perfect. In other case it may lead to chaos. Most specialists advice Lean developers not to try to manage their projects in traditional style. If you are a Lean developer, you should know that it is useless to try to build hierarchical structures in Lean teams.
How to implement Lean methodology?
If you want to implement Lean methodology in your software development project, you should implement all Lean principles. First of all, you should start eliminating your wastes. Most developers begin this process with the elimination of financial wastes. That can be explained by the fact that budget is the main thing in every software development project. There is no project that can exist without it. The budget is never big enough to satisfy all requirements of the customer and the developers. After budget wastes are eliminated, you can start eliminating other wastes. But before doing that you have to create a Lean team. As already mentioned above, all Lean team members are interchangeable. It means that you have to choose high qualified specialists for your Lean team. Each of them must be capable of performing several roles. Additionally, your team members must be high motivated. That is because of the fact that Lean teams are self-managing.
So let’s answer the initial question of this article. It is necessary to use Lean methodology because it allows your team to create high quality products within a short time frame.