What Is the Lean Methodology?

16 February 2018 | Weronika Masternak | lean

In order to avoid projects that are unnecessary and undesirable for the market, the Lean methodology in programming was created. Thanks to it, you can quickly find out whether the planned investment is meeting the expectations of consumers, or should be changed. What does lean management look like in practice?

In the article you will find:

  • the main idea of the Lean methodology;
  • concerns about its use;
  • ways to introduce lean management;
  • the benefits of using the Lean methodology.

A very common problem in new investments is the determination of their business risk. Something that seems to be a "sure thing" or "hit the jackpot" in reality may not find its recipients, not break the offer of competition, and above all cause time and cost overheads. How can you protect yourself from such situations?

Lean management is conscious management

Lean methodology concept was created in order to avoid unnecessary and unwanted by the market ventures. Thanks to it, you can quickly find out whether the planned investment meets the expectations of consumers, and if not, what should be changed in it (what to add and what to eliminate), to make it happen. The quintessence of the Lean methodology is the depletion and simplification of processes within the organization, by getting rid of everything that is unnecessary. Lean management significantly affects flexibility and allows you to respond freely to perceived market changes.

Lean and fears connected with it

It happens that the discussed Lean development is rejected by the managerial departments. This is because it is often associated with a perverse system of waste elimination and resource reduction. The following things come to mind: complex activities focused around in-depth business analysis of the existing situation, introducing changes (related to eg liquidation of unprofitable product, resignation from a specific customer segment, change in the direction of technological development, modification of market expansion strategy, human resources regulation) and constant monitoring. Indeed, it requires increased work and control of the order of the organization (for example, measuring the working time of employees and machines, testing efficiency, introducing and increasing standards). It is worth remembering that all radical changes are not established suddenly. Lean in software development processes are slow, continuous and comprehensive, so building Lean associations with something drastic is unfounded. Only one thing counts here - resignation from unprofitable convenience for achieving measurable benefits.

How to introduce the Lean methodology to business?

The Lean methodology concept forces us to constantly observe the state of the organization and to ask questions. These questions are closely related to how the most effective and rational use of resources in the form of people, machines, time-cost expenditures, business space. The Business Model Canvas is a tool to facilitate this task. In this business model, the aim is to distinguish sources and resources necessary for the production of goods or services and to adjust their quantity/quality to the actual needs of the organization (minimum inventory and production costs). The products/services to be offered are initially subject to prototyping process (Minimum Viable Product, MVP) and A/B tests. Due to the fact that they are constantly improved through iterations (preferably in the form of short cycles) they have a better chance to meet the surveyed or signaled requirements of users (Product-Market Fit, PMF). The same happens with employees of a given organization - they are more productive and strive for professionalism when they know that the effect of their reliable work makes sense for clients. The state of “excellence” can be achieved through decentralized project management and listening to the voice of employees at all levels. On the basis of the feedback, adequate (and innovative) modernization or reorganization measures should be introduced, preferably in the form of flexible plans that take into account the points of view. The products/services proposed by the organization can have high quality by scrupulously refining them and eliminating all that is unnecessary. Employees involved in the delivery of products/services should be familiar with the scope of their duties, be subject to training in the improvement of their qualifications and be constantly promoted through motivational/bonus policies.

Summing up, thanks to the Lean implementation methodology in software development to manage the organization flexible (modifiable), simple and clear structures are created, and the hierarchy flattens (employees are not underestimated, each of them through bold transmission of thoughts and independence contributes to economic success). The most important good for the organization are people, because it is they who create the organization and their reliable work translates into the success of the business.

What are the benefits of the Lean methodology?

The most frequently occurring benefits as part of the introduction of the Lean methodology in software development to the functioning of the organization are:

  • the emergence of new clients. When verifying the need of a product / service on the market and introducing changes to it, you can gain the attention of a new target group,
  • satisfactory economic results. Due to the reduction of processes and limiting ourselves only to what is necessary for proper functioning, unnecessary time and cost surcharges can be avoided,
  • creation of a flexible organizational structure. As part of the Lean methodology, there are patterns of relations between members of the organization. They are aware of their duties (and possible changes in duties) and what they can expect from each other. In this way, the process of creating products or performing a service takes place smoothly (Lean Production),
  • qualified and satisfied staff. Thanks to incentive/bonus policies and the belief in delivering true value to consumers, employees are willing to carry out their tasks better and more efficiently,
  • minimum stocks. The organization does not invest in supplementary stocks; focuses solely on ensuring that supply is equal to demand,
  • removing imperfections. The organization gets rid of all unnecessary activities related to designing, manufacturing or investing,
  • assured measurability of activities. Thanks to transparent activities, the organization is able to measure the results of its activities and draw conclusions (growth hacking),
  • increased competitive ability. Products/services desired by consumers are delivered to the market.

In the current world, where waste of resources is encountered at every step. Lean is one of the ways to reduce the cost of manufacturing different solutions, starting from prototyping process reducing the costs of application development or IT systems and ending with the production of passenger vehicles or clothing. It is worth considering introducing the Lean methodology to its operation and being a conscious business owner.

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