How Can Lean Software Enable You To Better Serve The Business? #BTF09

John Rymer and Dave West presented a breakout session in the application development track on how Lean software development practices can be applied in your business. This obviously had a big focus on Agile, and how it can be used within large organizations. Unlike what some people think, Agile isn’t cowboy coding: it is quite disciplined, but it is optimized for delivering the right thing (from a business standpoint) in the minimal time. It’s all based on four principles: deliver the right product, provide hard value, simplify the platform, and allow efficient evolution. An optimal strategy depends on all four of those elements, but Agile projects may deliver on two or three of them, proving the value of Agile before a full Agile strategy is in use.

In order to apply these principles across your entire application development portfolio, you need a strategy that addresses these elements, and provides some way to measure the impact of such a strategy. Delivering the right product requires a focus on people and talent, and the industrial concepts of mass customization rather than mass production; providing hard value requires linking your development process to value streams with their focus on investment return; simplifying the platform requires a focus on tools and technology; and allowing efficient evolution requires optimizing work processes both within development teams and across the organization. I especially liked their chart comparing today’s practices in tools and technologies against Lean practices:

Today’s practices

Lean practices

Install for today and tomorrow Install for today, architect for tomorrow
Configure a general UI for many users Design for people in their work roles
Adopt integrated suites Adopt narrow-purpose modules and services
No component substitution is allowed Component substitution is allowed
Architectural evolution is slow by design Architectural evolution is constant by design

There are ways to bring Agile into an organization, even when budgets are flat and there is the perception that legacy systems just can’t be replaced without yet another huge project expense. Likely, your developers are already practicing some Agile methods already, and you could easily gain permission to prove these out in non-critical systems development.

Good session, with a high-speed tag team between Rymer and West. Unfortunately, the logistics aren’t quite as good as the general sessions: too-small meeting rooms requiring elevator access from the main conference area, no tables and no wifi coverage (at least in the room that I was in at this time).

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