integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

December 2017

How Kanban transformed our company

December 19th, 2017

At LSG Solutions, we’re firm believers in the fact that systematic processes lead to more predictable outcomes, and that lessons learned create even more predictability over time. It’s a lesson I learned while working at a manufacturing plant during college. They allocated time for employees to think about process improvement and implement ideas, which had a significant impact on the company over time.

These process improvement strategies, which are frequently used in product engineering and manufacturing, continue to trickle down to the software development process. The software development process isn’t always predictable, but there are still steps you can take to improve the process.

For us, Kanban is less about the tool and more about the philosophy. It’s a way of thinking that embraces the need to think and reflect on projects when they’re complete and identify areas for continual improvement.

There are a lot of great things about Kanban and how it has impacted our company. Here are my top nine.

  1. Creates a more efficient flow of work. Everyone can see the visual layout of tasks and projects.
  2. Allows people to be thinkers. It builds reflection time into each project to ensure that important steps aren't overlooked.
  3. Focuses on implementing manageable change, not dreams. There’s still a place for the dream projects, but projects have to be broken into manageable chunks.
  4. Empowers all levels to lead. If someone notices a bottleneck in the process, they can change it.
  5. Prevents spreading people too thin. If too many things are in progress, there’s not enough time to ensure proper completion.
  6. Encourages open communication. It creates transparency around the issues, especially those that affect efficiency.
  7. Takes assumptions and guess work out of the equation. Instead, it encourages asking questions to seek clarity.
  8. Encourages people to be savvy in the theories of risk, processes, and workflow. Many people are afraid of risk, but it’s necessary in the business world, and it’s easier to manage when you understand it.
  9. Helps make decisions, predict outcomes, and compare to actual results. You can’t improve what you don’t measure, and Kanban helps us measure what we do.

There’s no magic scientific formula for creating a perfect software product, but there are some things you can do to influence the outcomes. At LSG Solutions, Kanban has changed the way we think and approach software development. We have in-house software developers who understand risk, workflow, and processes, which is something that differentiates us in the market.

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The importance of finishing what you start

December 5th, 2017

There was a time in the past (and still today at some companies) that software developers and users suffered from shiny object syndrome. Big ideas got tossed around and started, but projects didn’t get finished, or they looked dramatically different than the original idea. Often those projects started with too many requirements or a lack of clarity around the end goal.

The issue of shiny object syndrome sparked many companies to begin using the agile-scrum approach for software development, but it also created a broader awareness of the need to prioritize. By breaking projects into smaller pieces and creating clear priorities for those smaller pieces, it’s easier to set expectations for what can be accomplished in a given period of time.

This approach in my work life carries over to my home life. I frequently tell my kids to finish what they start. I also tell them they shouldn’t start a project unless they believe they can finish it. Those projects might be a grand idea for a Lego build, or any other project they dream up, as their brains are always dreaming up great ideas.

For my kids, there are two things that typically interfere with completing such projects: they get frustrated and decide the project is too hard or they simply get distracted by something else. The same is true in the business world. It’s human nature, and it starts at a young age.

I’ve seen businesses start way too many software application endeavors and then assign one or two developers to each endeavor. Then the projects just go on and on. The organization claims the projects are a top priority, but they never get completed, which frustrates the developers and the company’s leaders.

Whether it’s a business or your child’s Lego project, our human nature is to start too many things and not finish them. Then we end up extremely busy, but highly unproductive because we can’t figure out how to prioritize the work flow. To counteract that, the people involved need the ability to determine the flow of production.

At LSG Solutions, we’ve fully embraced both the agile-scrum approach for software development and the importance of finishing what we start. And we’ve found a great tool to manage it, which we’ll tell you about in our next post.

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