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Applicability of Lean toward improved efficiency in software development: – A case study at a Swedish ICT Company
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Production Engineering.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Production Engineering.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In recent years, software development has been evolving around an Agile way of working to optimize software development processes. Simultaneously in other industries, the Leanconcept have been adopted and used to make manufacturing and production of services more efficient. Software development companies has now started to realize that in order to become competitive in software delivery they need to optimize the entire end-to-end process and not only improve the development phase. Thus, an increased interest for Lean thinking has appeared in the industry. Applying Lean successfully in a software development context is not an easy task. This since Lean is developed for and by the manufacturing industry its content is also dependent on the characteristics of this context. Thus, it is not applicable to other contexts without being adjusted. Though, literature argues that when the content of Lean is properly adjusted to nature of the relevant context it can contribute with the same benefits as in manufacturing. However, the literature lack in studies on how Lean can be successfully applied in nonmanufacturing contexts. This study aims to contribute to this knowledge gap by adjusting and applying Lean tools in software development context in order to make the end-to-end processmore time- and resource-efficient. This will be made through a case study at a software development department at a Swedish Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Company. This department develops software components that work as building blocks of the product sold to the end customer. More specifically, these components contribute with functionality that enables communications between the nodes in a network. The review of the existing body of knowledge together with an analysis of the company specific problems indicates that the most sufficient tool to apply in this case study Lean implementation is Value Stream Mapping (VSM). Hence, the study focuses on adjusting the Value Stream Mapping framework to this new context in order to visualize the entire value flow and make improvements aligned with Lean. The adjustments of VSM are underpinned by relevant findings from previous research together with an analysis of the differences between manufacturing Lean and software development Lean. The study shows that it is possible to reasonably adapt and benefit from Value Stream Mapping also in the context of an ICT Company. The outcome of the study is an overview of the current value flow at the company and suggestions on how, where and what improvements can be made. Though, all improvement suggestions evolve around the aim of improving the flow efficiency and eliminating waste by improving the communication, standardization, synchronization, resource allocation and developing proper measurements. The conclusion is that Lean is applicable in the particular software development context with some necessary adjustments made to fit the current way of working and value offering. The usage of Lean tools such as Value Stream Mapping is possible, also here adjustments are a must and the VSM shows that the current state is better in providing a base for improvements than the future state map. This since improvements in this context is not always visualized and captured in the future state map, but the future map contribute to a vision for the valuestream to aim towards.

Key words: Lean, Agile, Value Stream Map, Software development, Flow, Waste, Management

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 79 p.
, Degree Project in Production Engineering, Second Level, 600
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-147578OAI: diva2:730815
Available from: 2014-06-30 Created: 2014-06-30 Last updated: 2014-06-30Bibliographically approved

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