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Every business wants to increase sales -- and the ability to do so is even
more vital in today's economy. For companies that are looking to save money
on manufacturing, this translates into an imperative to streamline production
and build effective project teams to meet the evolving needs of clients. Success
becomes visible when project teams maximize quality manufacturing and minimize
budgets. Two distinct development methodologies have emerged to produce the
most efficient and economic options available for achieving this: lean and agile.
The former strictly focuses on value that is realized by waste minimization.
The latter is centered on creating more value with less work. But when it comes
down to it, which competing model strikes the best possible balance between
quality of final projects and cost?
An agile product development approach helps companies achieve aggressive market
delivery targets, while maintaining cost structures optimized to current economic
conditions. John Zachman, who originated the Zachman Framework, did some of
the seminal work that laid the foundation for current best practices in IT process
and architecture, from development through architecture and governance. One
of John's maxims is that the best analog for building software is manufacturing
and that a company should ultimately be able to assemble solutions to order.
Service Oriented Architectures and agile processes have made his prediction
a reality. Solutions for both discrete and process manufacturing companies have
the power to bring manufacturing disciplines to bear in IT. Businesses can extend
that capability, and therefore the ability to precisely deliver with high quality
solutions, by using these manufacturing concepts.
Lean is a culmination of the best ideas in manufacturing history that came
together when Taichii Ohno married Toyota's concepts of workforce empowerment
with Henry Ford's production optimization ideas, enabling it to evolve into
the iconic manufacturing powerhouse it became. The core of lean is a relentless
focus on value that is realized by waste minimization -- eliminating all activities
that do not add value. In Japanese, this is called Kaizen, the continuous process
improvement, quality, a quest for zero defects -- and the ability to quickly
adapt production to value-driven demand (pull processing). Lean principles also
- Waste minimization: Features are defined in close conjunction with
colleagues in the field and customers. Ideally, the finished product is reviewed
every two weeks to ensure the right thing is being built correctly.
- Quality: Test-driven development and highly automated testing management
build quality into the development process so that a feature is fully tested
as it is being built.
- Kaizen/Continuous Improvement: Agile is fundamentally powered by
self-governing teams. Empowered teams naturally strive to improve their processes
and collaboration using techniques like retrospectives.
- Pull processing: Products and features are defined with field experts
and tested as they are being produced to provide optimum value to the people
who will use them.