Learning the 7 lean software development principles is vital to your success. The expression “lean and mean” is just another way of saying, “efficient and successful.” A lean approach to any endeavor means using only what’s necessary and determined to work effectively to compete successfully.

Lean build or lean software development emphasizes optimizing efficiency and minimizing waste. Pioneered by Toyota in the lean manufacturing movement of the 1980s, the approach is now considered an integral part of the Agile software development methodology.

The Guiding Principles of Lean Software Development

Lean software development is a set of principles that, when applied to software development, can decrease programming effort, budgeting, and defect rates, often by up to a third. It’s an innovative approach that aims to remove all things unnecessary from software engineering.

Depending on who you talk to, there are anywhere from four to seven principles of lean software development. The customer-centric approach of each aims to quicken delivery and bring higher end-user value.

Lean Software Development Principle

  1. Waste Elimination

We’ve talked before about the Pareto Principle, where 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes. Back in 2002, Jim Johnson of the Standish Group applied the theory to software features, stating only 20 percent of software features are often used while the other 80 percent are infrequently, hardly ever, or never used. They may be features that, in theory, make the user experience better but, sad to say, if people aren’t using them, they’re of no value. Eliminating what won’t bring value to the end-user speeds the development process, removes unnecessary system complexity, and boosts team morale.

2. Built-in Quality

Naturally, every team wants to build quality into their work. Yet unless this principle is part of a disciplined practice, the result is often waste. In lean development, quality is not only QA’s job; it belongs to everyone. Agile tools for building in quality can include test-driven, incremental development, continuous feedback, and automation of tedious tasks.

3.  Knowledge Creation

Software development is a knowledge-driven progression that encourages teams to put the right structures in place for proper learning. Simple in theory, this principle requires complete focus and commitment. It’s typically implemented through training, code reviews and comments, pair programming, sharing sessions, and more.

4.  Deferred Commitment

Many development people instinctively make decisions as quickly as possible. As a lean principle, deferring decision-making and commitment:

  • Encourages project teams to keep options open for a more extended period so they can gather more data and information for making crucial decisions.
  • Results in more time to learn and gain valuable knowledge, which results in even better decisions.
  • Ensures a project doesn’t suffer negative impacts from poor decision-making.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Isn’t it better to put off making rash decisions if the result is a product with fewer failures along the way?

Lean Software Development Principles

5.  Fast Delivery

The purpose of Agile development is to deliver software as quickly as possible. Lean development ties into learning from failures and receiving feedback. The more quickly a team delivers features for user testing, the faster it can make the product better. Put another way, don’t be afraid to release an imperfect product that you can update based on customer response.

6.  Team Respect

Lean management has always focused on “people over processes.” It honors the individual and recognizes the fact that people do the real work. You can communicate respect to the team in any number of ways as long as you start with a healthy work environment that supports the lean method’s principles. Proactive communication, process improvement, and conflict resolution techniques are excellent examples of conveying team respect.

7.  See the Whole

Some people refer to this as total optimization. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s about seeing software development as a big-picture venture that envisions the whole scope of where a project is going, who it’s going to affect, and how it can reach the widest audience. In other words, long-term thinking trumps short-term thinking every time.

Lean Software Development Principles

Lean Software Development Principles: The Key to Successful Product Launch

Because it helps reduce costs, minimize risks, and speed up results, software development outsourcing is a great way to make your project leaner. Zibtek uses lean software development principles that generate innovative solutions, lower development costs, and shorten development cycles.

Based on years of experience, we know the best way to deliver a product people like is to listen to what they have to say. This human-centric mindset ensures a good digital product that not only pleases your customers but also propels your company forward.

Have a custom software project you’re looking to kick off? We’d love to discuss our lean approach with you!