Lean thinking and MVP in product management

Lean thinking has been around for quite some time. Lean’s basic concept is to reduce waste, which means that anything in our production cycle that does not add value to the customer is considered waste and must therefore be removed from the process.

Some waste is needed by the business to maintain it, such as quality checks, but most of the so-called waste is actually a waste of time and effort and must be disposed of together.

As part of the assignment, I will use as an example the company in which I manage the software process. We are currently building a platform for freelancers in the USA and our goal is to improve the process by eliminating unnecessary waste.

Since not everyone is familiar with this process of thinking, I would start with an open presentation and discussion with management by showing them the benefits of this type of thinking and working. It is important to mention that we already use Kanban and Scum, but a distinction must be made between Lean, which looks at the whole process and involves more than the development cycle itself. Reference: “Lean training and integration in organizations“, https://stc-montreal.org/lean-training-and-integration-in-organizations/

For starters, I notice quite often that there are open “work in progress” tasks that take a lot of time, because one developer does several tasks at once, which slows down the process. To improve this, I would present the so-called “Pull system” way of working in front of the main management. This aims to reduce work in progress (WIP). Reducing the number of tasks will help our team focus on specific tasks instead of switching from one task to another without adding any value, thus adding to the amount of waste. In this way, the top management team would agree with this type of work, because it will reduce the time of the task and increase the productivity of developers. As an obstacle, it would be the developers if they are already used to a different way of working and it would be difficult for them to switch to a “pull system”. For this purpose, I would first convince only the main leader of the team and only then I would present the idea to the rest of the team. Reference: “Lean integration in organizations – a real example“, https://mstsnl.net/lean-integration-in-organizations-example/

Another method that I would use as a lean way of thinking is the so-called “Setup time”. This is the time it takes a developer to switch between tasks. Things like clearing your mind of the previous task, starting to save your time in some time tracking system, reading the new task, finding the right file, and so on. It takes a lot of work to adjust to the task, which, of course, takes time, which is called “setup time”. Reducing this time is one of the most effective measures you can take as Lean Thinking in this environment. Of course, this is not always possible due to the use of slow systems, but using a pull system would also help reduce setup time. Reference: https://customessaysonline.net/ Regarding this type of work, I would not expect obstacles from the team, as it helps them to complete tasks faster and focus on one thing before moving on to another task. All of these techniques would help our team focus on getting the job done and not get distracted by things we shouldn’t focus on. Original source: “20 Keys to Workplace Improvement (Manufacturing & Production) explained with examples and strategies”, https://phron.org/20-keys-to-workplace-improvement-manufacturing-production-explained-with-examples-and-strategies/

Another process in which we can use Lean thinking is when the designer submits the completed design to the developer. It often happens that the developer has to spend a few hours understanding the design and if something is missing. This also applies to the transfer of a task between developers: the upcoming one always sees errors in the code of the previous work and returns the task to fix it or just spends days fixing something that should have already been completed. (More Agile methodlogies: https://www.muzonet.com/)

To improve this process, I would use a quick check-up sheet in which all the steps must be completed before handing over the task to the new developer. And if it can be automated, even better. In this way, we would reduce the transfer of one task to the next team.

Another approach I would improve is when defects are found. The source of these defects can be found in defective tracking systems, poor management, poorly trained developers, not using the technology as it should be used, lack of documentation, too much system damage, etc. The fact that there are defects means we missed something. Therefore, I would suggest to the team, when they test something and find even a small bug, to fix it immediately, otherwise, it will take them much longer if they have to return to it in time.

With these examples, I would end the presentation to the management and therefore my conversation with the leader of the developers by trying together to improve the whole process to perform tasks faster and eliminate any waste from the process.

Thank you for the email and for sharing the idea. In this email, I will prepare both you and the teams you need to create a wonderful end product on the market that will win the trust of millions of people.

What is an MVP?

MVP means “Minimum viable product”. A minimum viable product is a product with enough functionality to satisfy early customers of the product and provide feedback on future product development.

I share this photo with you to find out briefly what we want to achieve with MVP. Following this principle, we will protect our organization from serious investments and costs for unproven ideas:

To find out if your idea will be successful in the market, we must first validate it, because at this stage it sounds like a hypothesis. To achieve this, we need to break your whole idea into small particles that will serve as features. And to break them down into small tasks, I need to include our developers and product owner, because they know how much technical time it takes for a particular task.

To validate your idea, we need to create a prototype that we can show to several potential customers and, of course, already know which people would be interested in this product (target audience). To this end, the designer will create a quick prototype that we can share with our potential customers. It can be a paper or high-quality prototype with which people can try to achieve a certain goal and hear their opinion.

I had a meeting with the developers and we created a plan together based on your ideas for the platform. We realized that some of the tasks would require months of work. In this case, I recommend the following – to create a skateboard as in the picture or the so-called. Beta / MVP. To create it as quickly as possible and validate the idea with an even larger audience.

It may not seem like much, but only in this way we will understand how customers react to your idea and we will learn a lot from them about our upcoming tasks. Also, they will be able to add properties to the platform and thus we will start filling it with information. If we create everything from your list, we will need more than 8 months of continuous work and only then we will be able to validate your idea, and by then it may be too late.

This is the way I want to introduce our entire organization and start following these steps to succeed together.

I hope that with this email I have informed you about the next steps and the plan with which we will be able to validate and create a wonderful platform.

Published by Anton Radev

Front-End Web Developer

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