Becoming a lean agile enterprise

Insight Main Image

Across the software development space, terms like lean and agile are used on a regular basis as teams switch from legacy processes to practices that are more streamlined and responsive. However, while many businesses understand the general implications of lean and agile values, what does it mean to actually adopt these development approaches? Although there are a number of benefits to be seen, a considerable amount of planning must go into leveraging these ideals. Here are a few things organizations will likely experience as they become a lean agile enterprise:

1. Leadership to encourage cross-collaboration
Agile operations in particular entail role changes, and encourage teams to collaborate across projects. To facilitate this, leaders are created to help guide these opportunities and ensure that major issues are resolved. BPM Institute noted that individuals in these positions establish business priorities, create communication channels and strive to bring out the best in their teams. This in turn will help eliminate much of the wasted time from siloed operations and ensure that everyone is always on the same page.

Developers and quality assurance professionals have traditionally worked separately, but agile testing methodologies and software practices have brought these individuals together for a common purpose: high-quality, high-value applications. Which is why there needs to be constant coordination between both the teams while using an enterprise test management solution. With a leader to guide these efforts, employees will have goals to strive toward and waste will be significantly reduced, allowing the enterprise to become more lean and agile.

2. Flexible to customer needs
In waterfall development, the customer often only experienced the final product, limiting their ability to shape how applications would function. However, lean and agile practices place higher value on user feedback and being able to actively meet these needs as quickly as possible. CGN Global noted that in a lean agile enterprise, development processes should be structured to flexibly and accurately meet customer demand. This will inherently motivate employees to continually improve, boost responsiveness to user needs, create strategic relationships and yield high profits with low costs.

Having customers involved throughout the project lifecycle can be critical to leveraging lean and agile practices effectively. Not only will this feedback enable developers to continually deliver quality functionality to each app, but it will also eliminate costs associated with making changes in legacy development approaches.

"A true lean enterprise needs to become a company-wide initiative – engrained in all stages of the value chain," CGN Global stated. "All business functions such as finance, manufacturing, accounting, logistics, marketing and sales touch the value chain in all stages of the product lifecycle. To truly meet the increasing demands of customers, companies' responses need to be holistic – implanting lean throughout the entire enterprise including all stakeholders such as suppliers."

3. Leverage metrics for best results
In an age where information is king, leveraging software testing metrics can help organizations become leaner and more agile. Consider this: In waterfall methods, how well did you track defects, changes and other crucial testing data? How many times did you generate reports containing these statistics and how did you act on them? Agile and lean operations makes this type of information even more critical, as it can show organizations what areas can be improved and help generate ideas to be even more responsive.

Information Age contributor Chloe Green noted that testing metrics will help give QA and development teams better knowledge concerning customers, business units and just how many resources are being expended. Organizations can become leaner with this information by utilizing data about user habits to reduce development costs and focus only on functionality that people actually want. The movement of data across stakeholders can also help teams become agile and leaner in their software development efforts.

"Data can now hold teams and people accountable," Green wrote. "Examining the distribution of data within a company and the results of different business units, leaders can get an overall view of the organization's direction, identify problematic and over performing units and make changes to maximize productivity and efficiency."

Becoming a lean agile enterprise has a number of challenges, but it also has significant benefits to offer. By understanding lean and agile development process; teams can better leverage these approaches to their advantage.