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An exploratory study of waste in software development organizations using agile or lean approaches: A multiple case study at 14 organizations

Journal article
Authors Hiva Alahyari
T. Gorschek
R. B. Svensson
Published in Information and Software Technology
Volume 105
Pages 78-94
ISSN 0950-5849
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Computer Science and Engineering (GU)
Pages 78-94
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2018.08...
Keywords Waste, Non-value adding activities, Lean software development, Agile software development, management
Subject categories Software Engineering

Abstract

Context: The principal focus of lean is the identification and elimination of waste from the process with respect to maximizing customer value. Similarly, the purpose of agile is to maximize customer value and minimize unnecessary work and time delays. In both cases the concept of waste is important. Through an empirical study, we explore how waste is approached in agile software development organizations. Objective: This paper explores the concept of waste in agile/lean software development organizations and how it is defined, used, prioritized, reduced, or eliminated in practice Method: The data were collected using semi-structured open-interviews. 23 practitioners from 14 embedded software development organizations were interviewed representing two core roles in each organization. Results: Various wastes, categorized in 10 different categories, were identified by the respondents. From the mentioned wastes, not all were necessarily waste per se but could be symptoms caused by wastes. From the seven wastes of lean, Task-switching was ranked as the most important, and Extra-features, as the least important wastes according to the respondents' opinion. However, most companies do not have their own or use an established definition of waste, more importantly, very few actively identify or try to eliminate waste in their organizations beyond local initiatives on project level. Conclusion: In order to identify, recognize and eliminate waste, a common understanding, and a joint and holistic view of the concept is needed. It is also important to optimize the whole organization and the whole product, as waste on one level can be important on another, thus sub-optimization should be avoided. Furthermore, to achieve a sustainable and effective waste handling, both the short-term and the long-term perspectives need to be considered.

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