A Guide to Lean Software Development Principles for Successful Software Creation

There are several software development methodologies, and choosing the right one to adopt in your company can be challenging. After all, designing and building entirely new software from the ground up is generally costly. The average business requires 63% of its software dev budget for the whole software development lifecycle of a single project.

Lean software development is one of the most reliable development methodologies, optimizing budget and efforts by up to 33%. The seven lean software development principles also lower the overall process’ defect rate.

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Lean Software Development Definition

Lean Software Development (LSD) is a lightweight approach to software creation using the Agile framework and philosophy. The lean software development principles focus on optimizing time and other resources and reducing, if not entirely eliminating, waste. Ultimately, lean development methodologies aim to deliver only the most essential in your final output.

Lean methodology in software development is also referred to as the minimum viable product (MVP) technique. The strategy enables developers to create a bare-minimum functioning product version, release it to the market, and collect feedback from users about the features they enjoy and dislike in the prototype. Customers can also suggest improvements, such as functionalities they would prefer to be added to the software.

7 Lean Software Development Principles

Customers rarely use 64% of the features of the average software product. Their hefty costs will only put a dent in your budget. Lean software development can help you prevent this mistake.

Lean development methodologies are anchored on the basic idea of creating a simple software solution that can be enhanced based on user feedback. They bring an outstanding competitive advantage owing to the speed at which a new software product is introduced to the market.

These are the lean software development principles on which the strategy operates:

1. Eliminating the Waste

Eliminating wastes is identifying glitches and suggesting modifications that can be implemented following steady, manageable steps.

Wastes are components that do not contribute to the product’s value and primary objectives. These are the nine types of waste that lean methodology in software development strives to reduce and avoid:

  • Unnecessary codes, functionalities, and features that slow down feedback loops from dev team members, project managers, and customers
  • Additional tasks that are beyond your team’s capacity for completion and add to the process’s complexity
  • Excessive processing utilizing costly advanced software development tools that can be substituted for simpler yet still efficient tools
  • Vague or constantly shifting priorities and requirements that lack focus, resulting in redundancies and the need for regular rework
  • Poor communication among stakeholders not only causes misunderstanding, frustration, and delays but may also affect your business reputation
  • Quality issues and errors lead to low consumer satisfaction rates and abandoned work
  • Paralyzing bureaucracy
  • Data duplications
  • Unwarranted expenditures due to the abovementioned

2. Building Quality

Lean software development aims to prevent waste without compromising consistency and quality.

Consistency means that the product’s architecture and interface are understandable, easy to maintain, flexible, and easy to extend. It goes hand-in-hand with quality that involves timely delivery and long-term usability, entailing user satisfaction.

The final product should balance the application’s reliability, functions, and economic value. Lean development methodologies can assist with the following:

  • Smooth process maintenance
  • Flexible engineering systems
  • Fast feedback collection
  • Immediate evaluation after gathering reviews and suggestions
  • Efficient application of feasible and practical changes
  • Fewer trade-offs, i.e., short-term adjustments in expenditure, time, and scope
  • Smarter resolution for bugs and other possible defects

Here are the most popular approaches to lean methodology in software development for enabling consistency and building quality:

  • Pair programming: This is a software engineering, and development concept wherein the unique experiences and skills of two developers are combined to help prevent quality concerns and anticipate obstacles early in the process. It banks on the idea of “two heads are better than one” to ensure higher product quality than what one dev expert could accomplish alone.
  • Test-driven development: It is essentially the opposite of the “build and then examine” approach. Developers outline criteria and tests for writing codes before developing and executing the codes. This will help ensure you meet client requirements.
  • Automation: It is advisable to automate as many manual processes as possible to avoid human error. Automation bridges knowledge gaps and allows your team to focus more on quality assurance.

3. Creating Knowledge

Listed here are the tools for amplifying learning in LSD:

  • Pair programming
  • Code reviews and comments
  • Documentation
  • Updated knowledge base, like Wiki
  • Knowledge-sharing and brainstorming
  • Training and upskilling

4. Deferring Commitment

Delaying commitment in lean software development means:

  • Absence of excessive, unnecessary details when planning in advance
  • Fully understanding client and other business requirements before fixating on an idea or concept definitively
  • Collection and analysis of facts before making important business decisions

5. Delivering Fast

A speedy response to client needs measures the maturity of an organization and its IT department. It speaks volumes about your capacity to add value to your client’s business.

Knowing the most common hindrances to immediate response and resolution is critical. Being aware and watchful can help your team find a way around these mistakes:

  • Overly thinking about and planning future actions and measures
  • Leaving blockers unresolved for long, thus, increasing the likelihood of escalating them into a more serious problem
  • Overproduction of features and solutions

6. Respecting People

Respect for people is another one of the lean software development principles. This applies to all aspects of the interaction between teams, namely:

  • Main touchpoints of communication
  • Conflict-handling and resolution
  • Screening, hiring, and onboarding new specialists
  • Process improvements

Encourage the values of teamwork and respect for people by practicing:

  • Proactive conversations
  • Collaborative atmosphere
  • Genuine team support and empowerment
  • Open exchange of ideas
  • Acknowledgment of healthy disagreements
  • Unbiased resolution of conflicts
  • A balance between due dates and workload
  • Self-organization within teams
  • Values of responsibility and accountability
  • Fair delegation of tasks
  • Proper dissemination of announcements and information

7. Optimizing the Whole Value System

There are two detrimental cycles upon which lean software development teams typically stumble. They are as follows:

Writing and launching codes quickly at the expense of quality

Sometimes, developers are pressured to deliver fast by any means, making them end up sacrificing quality. A subpar code base causes unnecessary complexities and more defects. It is counterproductive as your team will have more rework to do. This cycle tends to continue when not addressed right away.

Overloading quality assurance (QA) testers

Your QA team may be understaffed. Or you set deadlines too closely with each other. These are some reasons behind insufficient time for extensive code testing.

After receipt of codes from the developers, your testing team needs ample time to examine and provide feedback. Otherwise, you may get more defects and require more testing in the long run. Similar to poor coding, lousy testing is an unfavorable cycle that can go on if left unsettled.

Prevent or remedy these cycles by determining your team’s capacity and streamlining their sequence of activities—from design to production.

Optimizing every value stream will enable you to achieve your goal, i.e., to deliver as much value to your clients in as little time. These are the benefits you can gain from value system optimization:

  • Smoother, more concrete workflow
  • Breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable issues for faster resolution
  • More unified teams
  • Better sense of shared responsibility
  • Enhanced performances
  • A balance between technical solutions and improvement opportunities

Applying Lean Methodology in the Software Development Lifecycle

Lean development methodologies apply to any production phase. See these practical applications of lean software development:

Conceptualization

Design and dev teams can apply the first lean software development principles in incorporating ideas and features into the projected product while decreasing or removing waste.

Requirements and Software Design

The principle of delaying commitment steps in when client requirements change. Designers and developers should have enough flexibility to entertain new information and allow modifications.

Product Development

Improve existing skills and learn new ones from tasks so that you can perform them better and more efficiently in the future. This is the principle of amplifying knowledge at play at this stage.

Testing

Eliminating waste, creating quality, and adding value will guarantee that you meet your customer’s expectations.

Product Launch

Leverage feedback from all stakeholders, both customers and internal team members, to improve the app and fix bugs. Fast delivery also applies here.

Wrap-Up: Should You Use Lean Software Development?

Find and employ optimal solutions to user problems through lean software development. The primary goal of lean methodology in software development is to champion product and team cultures that support a well-oiled approach to experimentation and results from the analysis.

Lean development methodologies let your software dev team realize great ideas gleaned from data-backed insights. To get the most out of lean development, answer these guide questions:

  • What are the user problems you intend to solve?
  • How will the plan and prospective product solve these problems?
  • What value-add features will the software offer that can convince customers to buy it?

You can proceed to coding, building, and testing based on lean software development principles when you have a viable concept.

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