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Michael is a founder of TargetProcess (agile project management software). His Mission is to provide solutions to real problems in agile projects. He wrote several books about web development and many articles related to almost all aspects of software development. Michael is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 48 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Cellular Manufacturing and Software Development

02.11.2010
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I’m digging into Lean Manufacturing and it’s so interesting to learn manufacturing history and its trends. There are so many parallels between manufacturing and software development. Of course they are not direct, but a curious mind can draw them quite easily. Let’s take Cellular Manufacturing as an example.



Cellular Manufacturing is a workspace organization technique. The main principle is to organize production of a single product in a small dedicated unit (cell) that consists of several people and several workstations. The benefits are surprisingly huge:

“The result is very fast throughput. Communication is easy since every operator is close to the others. This improves quality and coordination. Proximity and a common mission enhance teamwork.”

It is a significant improvement over the functional space configuration, when you have large queues and long transition time.

Now, if we think about software development, it is becoming clear why distributed teams have problems and why functional departments will not survive in the near future.

Cellular manufacturing applied to software development directly leads to cross-functional teams that work on a single project. Cell is a single team that has its own inventory and cross-trained people. Expanding it further, it means that developers should be able to do testers’ job, and vice versa.

From lean perspective, managers job is to setup cells configuration efficiently. It is not required to track individual work, but to track cell work instead. It brings process optimization to a higher level and powers system thinking.

It is really amazing how much we can extract from lean manufacturing and adopt this knowledge to software development…

References
Published at DZone with permission of Michael Dubakov, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Sindy Loreal replied on Sat, 2012/02/25 - 10:08am

"it means that developers should be able to do testers’ job, and vice versa."
Sound like building software is so simple so that even testers are able to do programming's stuff. There are even some programmers I don't want them doing specific tasks. Reality is complexity of software. Some people think that agile approach will handle tech issues as well. It's completely wrong. Agile and lean specially is all about communication, flow, and signaling.

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