Visionary. Value focused.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Software Development Methodology – Lean

The concept of reducing waste and adding customer defined value to products and services, Lean development seeks to make small, incremental changes in process to improve speed, efficiency, and quality.

Founded in two pillars namely respect for people and continuous, Lean is described as a mindset and not a set of tools in Japan.

According to Dr. Shigeo Shingo, a Toyota engineer and expert on the methodology, “Lean is a never-ending elimination of waste; it is committed to total customer satisfaction, total commitment to quality and total employee involvement…”

Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, first developed the Lean methodology in the 1950s, which was then known as the Toyota Production System.

pushing cube vs pushing globe

Source: SOLABS

Tl; dr;

Lean is a concept methodology that aims in optimizing efficiency and minimizing waste in the development of software. It focuses on the idea that less is more, streamlining in every part of the software development lifecycle.

Software development is a natural application of Lean methodology because it follows a defined process, with defined conditions of acceptance, and results in delivering tangible value.

What is Lean Methodology?

The Lean approach is all about optimizing processes and eliminating waste. With these, it can help operations cut costs while still delivering same high-quality product that customers want and are willing to pay for.

It is done by evaluating the process thoroughly to determine that development teams are doing right and remove or adapt all steps that may possibly generate wastes. This so called “waste” is also known as muda and directly encompasses anything that doesn’t add value to the end product.

Thus, Lean is an improvement and problem solving method in which it strives to reduce or eliminate activities that don’t add value to the customer.

As what management guru Peter Drucker has said, “There’s nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

lean methodology lifecycle

Source: Rotating Solutions, Inc.

Lean Principles

Lean is based on five (5) principles, aiming to help companies change the way they do business for the better:


Specifying value is always defined from the standpoint of the end customer’s needs for a specific product. It is through understanding what the customer is willing to pay for.

This principle is categorized into three (3) ways:

  • Non-value add activity (waste);
  • Value add activity; and
  • Business value add activity.

Value Stream Mapping.

Mapping all the steps, process, or sequence in the value stream for each product family, at the same time, eliminating those steps that do not create value.


Making the product and information requests flow smoothly through the business without disruptions or delays.


As the flow is smoothly introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity. This works by replacing only material that is used and eliminating excessive inventory for quick response to customer requirements.

Strive for Perfection.

State of perfection is achieved through frequently seeking to eliminate waste and improving the value provided to customers.

The Eight (8) Types of Wastes

It is possible that companies have hidden wastes that are driving costs of their products and services. With Lean, it helps them identify the eight (8) types of waste:

  • Motion. Unnecessary motion of personnel, equipment, or information within a workstation or motion in a job task that takes too much time to complete.
  • Transportation. Transporting of non-required items or information from one location to another.
  • Waiting. Waiting for parts, tools, supplies, or information, e.g., an absence of flow, or previous back logs.
  • Overproduction. Producing too much than what is required to meet the current demand.
  • Defects. Any repairs or alterations to the product after it’s been made.
  • Inventory. Refers to any type of supplies and materials that are kept or not being processed due to line of imbalance or overproduction.
  • Unrecognized talent. Failure to utilize the knowledge and skills of the employees.
  • Extra processing. Over-processing of information or doing any activity that is not adding value or required to produce products and services.

5S: Tools for Reducing Waste

The 5S System in the Lean Development Methodology represents the Japanese words that describe the steps of a workplace organization process.

  • Seiri (Sort). It is separating what’s essential from the nonessential items, and getting rid of things that aren’t needed.
  • Seiton (Straighten). The practice of proper storing of the essential materials, so the right item/material can be easily picked at the right moment as needed without waste of time.
  • Seiso (Shine). Cleaning the workspace without garbage, dirt, problems can be more easily identified.
  • Seiketsu (Standardize). Setting up standards to maintain and make 5S a habit.
  • Shitsuke (Sustain). Implementation of behaviors and habits to maintain discipline in the workplace over the long term.

What do the team get for following the principle?

With the implementation of Lean development methodology in companies they can now attain:

  • Great productivity;
  • Smooth operations;
  • Greater flexibility and responsiveness when it comes to customer demands;
  • Eliminate defects;
  • Improved product quality;
  • Reduced lead times and able to meet demands;
  • Increased customer satisfaction;
  • Empowered employees; and
  • Safe working environment.


The act of reducing waste and adding customer value, Lean defines long-term company survival and eliminating driving costs that greatly affects its products and services.

With its implementation, companies can achieve greater productivity, smoother operations, greater flexibility and responsiveness, eliminate defects, improve product quality, increased customer satisfaction, empowered employees, and a much safer workplace.


If you enjoy reading about software development methodologies, let’s take a look at other blog posts.

Software Development Methodology – Extreme Programming

Software Development Methodology – Scrum

Software Development Methodology – Kanban

Software Development Methodology – Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

Software Development Methodology – Feature Driven Development (FDD)

Software Development Methodology – Crystal

By Tuan Nguyen

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *