Using lean principles to improve software development practices in a large-scale software intensive company
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
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Lean software development is the result of adapting lean principles from the manufacturing context to the software development domain. Recently, the various applications of lean software development have been studied but more empirical evidence is needed, especially from the practitioners’ point of view. Firstly, this thesis provides answers for the understanding of lean software development from the practitioners’ point of view. Secondly, this thesis provides answers on the opportunities and barriers in applying the lean software development. In order to study this, a case study was conducted in a large-scale software intensive company. Focus groups were conducted to collect qualitative data. Studying the understanding of lean software development showed that four of the seven lean software development principles were identifiable from the discussion in the focus group sessions. The difference between agile and lean was recognized. The opportunities in achieving a culture of continuous improvement and involving people in the transformation were found and can be also identified from the existing research. Some new opportunities were also identified, such as using informal code-reviews as a practice in development and focusing improvements on the activities that consume the most time in the day-to-day work. The barriers that were found, such as avoiding sub-optimization, facilitation of improvement and having time to experiment, can also be identified from the existing research. Some of the barriers not identifiable from the existing research were the lack of quality thinking and varying standards in gate keeping. The findings of this study were presented in the case company with positive feedback and were discussed to be included into future improvement initiatives. This study also identified the power of the focus group method as a tool that could be used to drive improvement work. Suggested directions for future research include studying lean software development in a similar case study and taking a look at the possibilities of using focus group method as a tool for driving improvement initiatives in software development companies.
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