I have just come back from Mary Poppendieck’s presentation on “Beyond Agile Software Development: Becoming Lean”. It was a good talk that I will write up in more detail tomorrow, but for now here are a couple of points that I found interesting.
Queues, including backlogs of features to develop, are to be avoided. Ideally work should be limited to the capacity of the system. Mary was asked how this sits with agile methods such as Scrum that recommend backlogs and she acknowledged this key difference between lean and agile. She believes a backlog is a buffer that may cause disrespect towards those requesting the features and is really a mechanism to deal with dysfunctional organizations who can not organize their flow of work properly. This is an interesting insight and a motivator to try and keep backlogs as short as possible.
The three holistic metrics that software development project should be tracking above all others are:
1. Average Cycle Time – e.g. from feature description to production
2. The Business Case – is the project viable?
3. Customer Satisfaction – do the customers like and value what is being produced?
More on Mary’s talk and the differences between Lean and Agile tomorrow.