Why should Telco industry executives support agile development?
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Most managers and executives in the telco industry understand what Lean Manufacturing brought to their manufacturing groups. The question always has been how can we make development derive some similar benefits? The answer is agile development done effectively offers these types of benefits. This stands in contrast to what most executives this agile actually is which is just throwing chaos into the process. To see this we need to look at the benefits that Lean brought to the manufacturing process.
1) Ability to respond customer needs quicker and produce
products as they ask for them. Agile at its core is all about this. It is about
developing a piece and showing it to customers, getting feedback and then
adjusting based on that feedback.
2) Lean Manufacturing optimizes bottlenecks as they occur by focusing on people over process. i..e. get management on the factory floor and support changing the flow where people see the bottlenecks. This again is a focus of agile. This is why agile teams have daily short standup meetings. These meetings allow the team to quickly state bottlenecks and get suggestions of workarounds and not first hear about the issues as the schedule slips.
3) Lean Manufacturing allows Building in smaller batches to
meet customer requests and not just counting inventory as a benefit. Agile is
all about building small pieces (user stories) and using that to drive the rest
of development Small items go into a backlog based on customer needs and other
factors. This is essentially the same end goal.
The point of all of this is that agile is something executives with a Lean manufacturing background, like in the telco industry, should embrace if it is leveraged properly. The key is making sure tools support the process to give management the ability to make good decisions based on up to date data coming from development teams without hindering the agile development process. This all leads to taking agile metrics and turning them into effective business metrics. I have an upcoming February webinar on this topic.