Thursday, December 16, 2010


I have had the privilege of visiting a facility of ours in Pennsylvania. Unlike many of the shops in my company, this is one that actually produces a significant hardware component in addition to software (nearly all the other shops I visit produce software or services to support that software).

The tour of the hardware facility was incredible. The entire organization is highly focused on lean development. While there is generally some push on this in the software space, particularly with the Kanban movement, my experience has been that software efforts focus more on other frameworks for process improvement or process definition - such as Agile, CMMI or FDA. While I have had exposure to Lean, it is something relatively new to me. I have discussed it with one of our software shops, but actually seeing it in a hardware location shifted my thinking of how I was even considering it in the software setting. This sort of paradigm shift is exciting actually - yes, I know a bit nerdy - but genuinely exciting.

Today I am considering the whole step of considering value versus waste in the software development process. The definitions of what is valuable (sellable to the customer) are hard to sit with initially. There is so much in software that is not valuable by this definition and is hence waste - but that we are so classically attached to. Change request forms, design documentation, source management tools, review activities, etc. These are waste but are necessary to have or to do. In a car manufacturing shop, the equivalent would be a wrench I guess ... not sellable but required.

But in any case, the exercise I am currently considering is that bucket of waste. When you consider that, you begin to consider the classic seven wastes and it forces you to consider further how you would reduce that waste or its impact.

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