How Agile Eliminates Waste (Part 1 of 5)

wasteOver the next coming weeks I will be discussing five ways that the Agile methodology can be applied to the software development process to eliminate waste. We use Agile here at 3coast as part of our custom application development methodology.

Waste is defined as anything that does not add value to the final product or service, not from your perspective but from the perspective of your customer.  The opposite of waste would be something that adds value to the desired result, for example more functionality, faster delivery, and higher quality.

The whole idea of eliminating waste originated from lean manufacturing practices which are based on the elimination of the 7W’s (Defects, Over-production, Wait Time, Transportation, Movement, Inappropriate Processing and Inventory).  Agile is a lean process that works to eliminate waste by removing unnecessary steps from the project process. It removes steps, reduces risk and removes the potential blockages that might normally prevent the project team from reaching its goal.

Team Environment

Collocated teams help us to eliminate three of the 7W’s (wait time, transportation, and movement). The close proximity of the team reduces communication issues and the time it takes to resolve issues.  Questions are answered quickly.  This eliminates the waiting game; reducing the time it takes for us to get a response to questions or clarifications of User Stories. Issues can be discussed and addressed quickly.

  • We eliminate the transportation or movement of knowledge information, reducing the risk of miscommunication. Paired programming allows for collaborative solutions and faster switching of resources, should that be required during the project life-cycle.
  • The team works as whole toward the common goal of completing the iteration.  Everyone’s input is valued and the team decides how the work will be done in order to complete each planned iteration.
  • Everyone is jointly responsible for the functionality that will be included in each iteration. Each team member takes responsibility for the deliverable process and works together to formulate how to best turn the Product Backlog into the functionality needed for each iteration.
  • Eliminating waste reduces frustrations and enables greater productivity and creativity. Overtime, the team will also increase its speed and at the same time reduce defects.

Interested in learning more about Agile teams? “Agile Coaching”, by Rachel Davies and Liz Sedley, is an excellent book that covers how to coach your team to become more Agile.  Trust me … implemented correctly Agile works!

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