The Major Benefits and Principles of Lean Software Development

Stanislava Konchakivska
Stanislava Konchakivska
IT Researcher Specialist

Originally coming from the manufacturing industry and introduced by Toyota engineers, the lean principles in software development are applied in many domains these days. This approach is mainly aimed at eliminating inefficiencies and reducing costs to gain better end results. In the following articles, we will briefly investigate why using the principles of lean software development (LSD) is highly valued and beneficial in the modern IT sphere. 

Table of contents

     What Is Lean Software Development?

    The term was introduced in the 1980s in the manufacturing industry, but these days it is considered a part of Agile methodology. Building cars and constructing engineering tools had to be done accurately and involve minimum waste to get the maximum “clean” products for lower costs. The same is now practiced in software development: preserving developers’ productivity through decreasing the overload, focusing on core operations of the project, and eventually getting clean code

    Agile has been proved by more than 68% of companies as an effective and time-saving tool. As a result of implementing this approach, organizations saw faster end product delivery, higher customer satisfaction, superb team collaboration, and considerably better quality. Moreover, not only does lean software development methodology have a useful product outgrowth, but it also helps integrate business strategy with IT. So, let’s see the driving principles behind LSD and how lean developers may give you an ace in a sleeve.

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    7 Key Principles of Lean Software Development

    Each of the principles described further carries out a particular mission to serve one common goal - bringing a high-value product to the end-user: 

    • Waste Elimination 

    • Fast Delivery

    • Respectful teamwork 

    • Optimization 

    • Quality

    • Generate and Implement Knowledge

    • Delayed Commitment 

    A deep and clear understanding of these lean development principles can result in successful projects involving large or small development teams. Let’s get to know each one. 

    1. Eliminating Waste

    This principle’s interpretation is as follows: anything that doesn’t bring value for the product should be eradicated. According to the Toyota founders of LSD, these are the aspects considered as waste: 

    • Producing ahead. The project should start only when there is an established goal: the strategy is determined, and the tech stack is chosen. The same applies to features included in the application: only after a thorough analysis can the feature be passed on to the development team. 

    • Errors. Preventing defects is not always possible but removing them before they bring damage is crucial in LSD. 

    • Overusing advanced tools. Software development is not always about using several tech stacks, libraries, and frameworks. Due to the existence of full-stack developers, many web and mobile applications can be built with one-two specialists and technologies accordingly. 

    • No unfinished tasks. Postponing or partially completing tasks can considerably affect the value of the end product. 

    2. Fast Delivery

    This principle can be mainly achieved through the Scrum methodology. This approach gives speed to project development through collaborating team members and solving complex issues once they occur. Moreover, Scrum is good for the development process since people working under this method can work independently without being told what to do. 

    3. Respectful Team Work

    Due to short deadlines or immense workload, quite often, respect within the team is neglected by developers. With this in mind, the product manager and CTA (Chief Technology Officer) must ensure a consolidated team that communicates appropriately, achieves mutual agreements easily, and can decide how to resolve issues. This principle is especially important when new members join the already-established team. 

    4. Optimization 

    All project details, wishes, and requirements must be discussed before the development begins. The point of optimization is to dedicate all effort towards features and functionalities to add to the platform. In fact, optimization will considerably save time since each stage of the development will be done based on deadlines.  

    5. Quality

    While building software, quality comes first in terms of satisfying customers’ needs. Lean engineering is all about tools that prevent waste, yet not sacrificing quality. For instance, developers often apply test-driven programming to analyze the code before it is written. Another way to gain quality is to get constant feedback from team members and the project manager. 

    6. Generate and Implement Knowledge

    Software development requires developers to conduct constant self-education since technologies do not stay still. Building a vast knowledge base brings new features to the application and increases the speed of development. Knowledge can be applied in code reviewing and testing processes. Moreover, through self-education, actions are based on facts rather than guesswork.

    7. Delayed Commitment

    Deferring commitment doesn’t presuppose teams to be irresponsible. However, this principle of lean development means to make clear decisions once they come to mind rather than discussing them for months. So, delayed commitment is about fully comprehending business needs and requirements before doing any actions. 

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    The Benefits of Using Lean Software Development

    Whether choosing Agile, Scrum, or Kanban methodology in lean engineering, this technique enables developers to understand customers’ needs and build flawless software. Let’s take a look at the key advantages of following this efficient approach. 

    • Considerably reduces superfluous processes. Since services are provided in a clean and fast way, customer satisfaction is guaranteed. The less unnecessary activities are done, the more time is dedicated to real and needed software development. 
    • Suitable for large-scale projects. Earlier in the article, we highlighted that the Scrum methodology allows developers to work independently and collaboratively. Therefore, even if your project involves 10+ people, the team management will not possess any considerable pitfalls. 

    Large organizations that are using Agile are applying a value stream approach in which various development teams are organized in sequential and parallel streams of work so that at the end of each iteration, you get a new version of the product.

    Dan Woods, Forbes’ former contributor.
    • Mitigation of late delivery. The process of software development sometimes overcomes pivots and project changes that eventually lead to delays. With the lean approach, the team is highly concerned about setting things up before the development begins. 

    The Drawbacks of Lean Software Development

    As the title suggests, lean methodology is not perfect and has a certain number of disadvantages. 

    • Requires effort to gain team cohesiveness. It is not an easy deal to bring different characters of developers together. Finding compromises, detecting weaknesses to prevent conflicts, and achieving mutual agreement is the project manager’s central task. 
    • Difficult decision-making process. It is essential for customers to clearly set their goals and requirements for the development not to be interrupted. Analyzing the market, defining the competitors, and other pre-project stages must be done accurately to bring developers a full picture for further production. 
    • Hard to keep up with the pace. It is not easy for developers to work on their relationship with team members, boost knowledge, and avoid pivoting off course. 

    What Projects Require Lean Software Development?

    For starters, lean software development is used by startups running projects on a shoe-string budget. Their resources are limited; thus, the best option is to build an application using this method. Using small teams, startups and small businesses can achieve the same big results as if they had more resources. 

    Another case where LSD is applied is in large corporations that manage several projects simultaneously, which, in the end, will become one big product. They need the projects to be maximally aligned with business strategies and created in a short time. It not only saves their time but also builds a collaborative team that dedicates their effort and knowledge for the common goal. 

    Last but not least, companies with a scarcity of technical knowledge can be sure that lean developers will implement the latest technological tools to guarantee exceptional features and competitive applications.  

    Wrapping Up

    Lean software development is a proactive approach that drives your project through productivity and cleanliness. Lean development, closely interconnected to Agile methodology, is all about the team’s integration, knowledge-sharing experience, and fast product delivery. All processes and stages of development are accurately built to deliver the end product to a customer at smart costs in a timely manner. At KeyUA, we are highly concerned about your wishes and requirements. Our developers are incredibly dedicated to their duties and able to collaborate to get you maximum results. 

    With an immense experience in lean methodology for software development, KeyUA specialists are ready to work on your project now!

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