Lean Product Development is the Right Approach for Software Development

June 5, 2006 — Posted by Jim Trott

Listen to the podcastLean Product Development is the right approach for software development

Toyota can bring new products from initial concept to the production floor in 18 months while other manufactures may take twice as long. Some software companies seem to have a knack for understanding what customers really want while others go through many versions to get something that merely works.

What is the difference? Their approach to new product development.

Toyota discovered that applying lean principles to the development and design of their products is somewhat different from lean applied to production and manufacturing. The goals are different and so the application of the tools is different, too.

Michael Kennedy describes product development as “the collective activity or system that a company uses to convert its technology and ideas into a stream of products that meet the needs of customers and the strategic goals of the company.” Product development is process of discovery. Discovering what customers desire and need and then designing product that will meet that. Indeed, perhaps 70% - 80% of a product’s cost lies in this discovery process; the production is relatively straightforward.

In this show, Alan Shalloway argues that this is also true for software development. The process of discovery of what customers desire and need is by far the largest contributor to the cost of the software product. Therefore, learning how to apply the principles of lean product development to software development is essential to an effective software development process.

Elements of Lean Product Development include:

  • A relentless focus on what the customer desires, wants, or needs
  • Driving out waste – the things we do that do not help us understand what the customer wants or that get in the way of creating product that satisfies those needs.
  • How to manage intellectual work

Software lives in the larger context of the business. Lean helps set the context in which software fits in the business.

Before the how, we have to understand the why.

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About the author | Jim Trott

Jim Trott is a senior consultant for Net Objectives. He has used object-oriented and pattern-based analysis techniques throughout his 20 year career in knowledge management and knowledge engineering. He is the co-author of Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design, Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility, and the Lean-Agile Pocket Guide for Scrum Teams.



        

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Al Shalloway
Business, Operations, Process, Sales, Agile Design and Patterns, Personal Development, Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Kanban Method, Scrum, Scrumban, XP
Cory Foy
Change Management, Innovation Games, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile
Guy Beaver
Business and Strategy Development, Executive Management, Management, Operations, DevOps, Planning/Estimation, Change Management, Lean Implementation, Transitioning to Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Scrum
Israel Gat
Business and Strategy Development, DevOps, Lean Implementation, Agile, Lean, Kanban, Scrum
Jim Trott
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Ken Pugh
Agile Design and Patterns, Software Design, Design Patterns, C++, C#, Java, Technical Writing, TDD, ATDD, Certifications, Coaching, Mentoring, Professional Development, Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, SAFe, Kanban, Kanban Method, Scrum, Scrumban, XP
Marc Danziger
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Max Guernsey
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Scott Bain
Analysis and Design Methods, Agile Design and Patterns, Software Design, Design Patterns, Technical Writing, TDD, Coaching, Mentoring, Online Training, Professional Development, Agile
Steve Thomas
Business and Strategy Development, Change Management, Lean Implementation, Team Agility, Transitioning to Agile
Tom Grant
Business and Strategy Development, Executive Management, Management, DevOps, Analyst, Analysis and Design Methods, Planning/Estimation, Innovation Games, Lean Implementation, Agile, Lean-Agile, Lean, Kanban