Lean + Agile vs Seven Wastes in Software Development

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för programvaruteknik

Abstract: Context: Software Process Improvement uses lean principles for eliminating wastes in the software development process. Waste is defined as anything that does not add value to the customer and product. The seven traditional wastes in software engineering are partially done work, extra process, extra features, waiting, motion, task switching and defects. Using the lean principles and practices, the wastes can be reduced or eliminated. It is important to know the lean practices that are widely used in software development and to know the practices, which captures the seven wastes. From the literature, the ability of waste reduction is theoretically discussed [2], but practically only little empirical evidence is available on ‘which practice is best capable in reducing specific kinds of waste.’ Objectives: Many software development organizations have adopted lean practices and agile practices for eliminating wastes of different kinds. Therefore, this study focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of lean practices in their ability to reduce the seven types of wastes associated with Lean Software Engineering. Methodology: The methodology that is used in this study is systematic literature review and industrial survey. In order to achieve the objective on evaluating the lean practices and agile practices in their ability to reduce the seven types of wastes that have more attention in research, a systematic literature review is conducted. Thereafter, to capture the effectiveness of lean practices in waste removal, a survey is designed to capture the perception of practitioners. Results: The systematic literature review has identified 53 relevant studies to the research topic. From these primary studies, the lean practices/principles, hybrid agile and lean practices, and the efficiency of agile practices in eliminating the seven wastes were identified. In addition to that, wastes that are captured by using lean practices; hybrid lean and agile practices were also identified. The reason for considering agile practices is that, agile and lean have similarities in eliminating the wastes and creating value to the customer [2][3]. Through the systematic literature review, it can be observed that researchers have not investigated all the seven wastes captured by lean practices. Thereafter, survey is the main contribution to this research where, the responses of 55 respondents from different countries were recorded. Most of the respondents are from India with 42% of the responses. We have asked the role of every respondent in their companies, and 19 respondents are Team leaders, 16 respondents are project managers and remaining people perform various other roles in software development. 38 respondents are from large-scale industry, which constitutes the majority part of the survey. The main contribution of the survey is identifying the ability of lean practices in eliminating different wastes. The respondents were asked to provide their level of agreement related to the effectiveness of each lean practices and agile practice in waste removal. A comparison between the results of SLR and survey reveals that there is a lot of variance in the perception of researchers and practitioners regarding the lean practices in eliminating wastes. Survey captures more wastes than SLR. From the results of survey, it was also identified that using the lean practices i.e. Kanban and VSM can eliminate most of the wastes. Kanban (41) and VSM (33) are mostly used and more efficient in industries. Conclusions: To conclude, the obtained results from this study will be quite useful for the real-time execution of lean practices. Team leaders, project managers, and organizations can adopt lean by choosing lean practices in accordance to the wastes that have to be eliminated from their software development process. This study has also identified the benefits and limitations of lean practices implemented in industry. This study helps researchers in providing necessary information that is very useful for further research in lean practices. The combinations of lean practices were also presented, which in terms one lean practice can compensate another in capturing all the seven wastes. In the survey, the additional wastes were identified when compared to SLR and this complements the literature. There is a considerable reach gap between the state of art and state of practice. It has been identified that VSM and Kanban practices have much attention in the literature. The remaining practices like Kotter and Kaizen are less concentrated in most of the research literature. From the literature, it is evident that none of the practices is capable of eliminating all the seven wastes in software development. VSM is capable of capturing wastes like waiting, extra process and motion. In addition, Kanban captures and eliminates wastes like partially done work, defects, task switching and extra features. With respect to the survey, Kanban and VSM practices are efficient in eliminating wastes. When the practitioners consider hybrid lean and agile practices, the combination of Kanban and Scrum, Scrum and VSM are efficient in eliminating wastes. The practitioners can consider the benefits of lean practices that are identified in this research.

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