Sunday, December 4, 2016

Work Optimization: Avoiding Waste with XP, DA and Scrum

Avoid Waste (!Waste)

Here are some of the most known work optimizing principles related to Avoiding Waste, where many of them have as source TPS philosophy to avoid sources of Muda/Waste (it is better to return to original ideas, beyond various further Lean evolutions; see biblio-TPS) The other two are the ones that bother me the most, and could be specific for knowledge work: Not Used Talents and Improvement Stalemate.  In our case, these sources of waste will be interpreted from software domain point of view.

Principles & practices. XP, Scrum and DA  

As in the case of Core Agile Capability we need have a traceability between principles, values and the practices that bring them to live. A such trace could be found at the end only from what is useful in the real work.

In the following parts, we will try to present how this realization is done by practices from original main Agile methods: XP-Extreme Programming and Scrum and how we can get a more robust approach using DA - Disciplined Agile. We mention only practices that are explicitly mentioned by the methods & their guidance ... and what we have found that works in real practice. Here it is summary, I will come back with details for each part.   

"What we need" - description of what we have find that it is working to manage that aspect of the waste.

Important: if Core Agile Capability – Responding to Changes - is not met, the software development is not optimized from the start: this core capability address all the optimizing work principles at their fundamentals.

No Inventory: reducing work in progress

What we need
·   First, we need to “make the work easy” (See biblio-Kent_Beck): a big work in progress (inventory) will exponentially increase the complexity & incertitude, will reduce reaction time (core required capability) and quality.
·      Reduce the work in progress (WIP) on all possible dimensions, from making the release smaller to avoid multi-tasking   

Avoid Defects

What we need
·    To prevent defects & catch them as early as possible ~ provide build-in quality; all the practice that “shift left” the quality risks will be useful  
·    First, to make the work easy: see Avoid Overproduction and Avoid Big Inventory    

Avoid Waiting

What we need
·  Work should be “Ready” – actionable (!) -  before start using main resources: we do not want to wait for dependencies related to information, artifacts and others; what is missing usually is the overall perspective, that a Rolling Wave approach could bring: product, release, iteration, inside iteration   
·    We want to avoid bottlenecks in work, such skills (specialization) bottlenecks   

Avoid Overproduction

What we need
·   To avoid “Big work” that bring many risks: it is hard to include & manage required changes, it is a high probability to deliver results that are no more needed       
·   To develop and be ready to deliver big value first; will be much easier drop not started “junk stories” on request
·  To not guess about production needs: mixing envisioning and JIT on requirements and solution, implement what and if is needed

Avoid Over-Processing

What we need
·   Avoid extra work, not required by customer
·   Avoid process ceremonial that does not bring value
·  See also dedicated sections for:  Avoiding Defects (Built-In Quality), Avoid “Transport & Motion”, Avoid Re-Work  

Avoid “Transport & Motion”

What we need
  • If, in case of manufacturing, products could be damaged by transport & motions, we can found an equivalent for this waste, also for knowledge work/software development: unnecessary long chain of information handover & information duplicate in a long chain of artifacts.
  • Successive handovers could be caused by lack team ownership over information and lack of cross-functional skills   

Avoid Not-used talents

What we need
·        Practices support to quick and effective learning & skills improvement
·        To develop cross-functional skills. Example: a programmer with requirements & testing skills will perform TDD and design better   

Continuous Improvement & no persistent impediments

What we need
·        To avoid blockage on process improvements 
·        A process that make the impediments visible & it is effective on removing them

Avoid rework

What we need
·        To avoid “Waterfall rework”: big work with too few feedbacks could increase rework to infinite  
·        To avoid “Scrum-Agile rework”: lack of look ahead on requirements & solution could induce need of rework 
·        To avoid late defects detection – see Avoid Defects
·        Finally, we need to balance envisioning and defer of the commitment (JIT) and also get as much feedback it is possible   

Final thoughts

Work optimization it is related to some main ideas:
·        Teams should choose the optimum practices and ways of work in context
·        A good range of skills and known practices maximize the also the range of available options  

Disciplined Agile principles are about choices and growing team’s members, offer a solid fundament and guidance for work optimizations, while including also XP and Scrum related practices.

Notes about practices

Specific for Agile is that with one practice we can get multiple benefits. If the same practice could address more sources of waste, we could consider that practice as more valuable for our process.
See specified bibliography for each method for more details about mentioned practices


·        Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production 1st Edition, by Taiichi Ohno, Productivity Press; 1 edition (March 1, 1988)
Biblio-DA Disciplined Agile
·        Agile Modeling Practices -
·        “Disciplined Agile Delivery:  A Practioner’s Guide to Agile Software Delivery in the Enterprise”, by Scott Ambler and Mark Lines
Biblio-XP Extreme Programming
·        Extreme programming explained: embrace change, Kent Beck, Addison-Wesley Professional; US ed edition (October 5, 1999)  

·        Software in 30 Days: How Agile Managers Beat the Odds, Delight Their Customers, And Leave Competitors In the Dust 1st Edition, by Ken Schwaber , Jeff Sutherland

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