CISC Seminar: Lean Software Management

BBC Worldwide Case Study

Dr Peter Middleton (Queen’s University Belfast)

Lecture Hall 1 (CA 111), Cairnes Building/St. Anthony’s, NUI Galway 09:30 :: 25th February 2011

This case study examines how the lean ideas behind the Toyota Production System can be applied to software project management. It is a detailed investigation of the performance of a 9 person software development team employed by BBC Worldwide based in London. The data collected in 2009 involved direct observations of the development team, the kanban boards, the daily stand up meetings, semi structured interviews with a wide variety of staff, and statistical analysis. The evidence shows that over the 12 month period, lead time to deliver software improved by 37%, consistency of delivery rose by 47% and defects reported by customers fell 24%. The significance of this work is showing that the use of lean methods including visual management, team-based problem solving, smaller batch sizes, and Statistical Process Control can improve software development. It also summarises key differences between Agile and Lean approaches to software development. The conclusion is that the performance of the software development team was improved by adopting a lean approach. The faster delivery with a focus on creating the highest value to the customer also reduced both technical and market risks. The drawbacks are that it may not fit well with existing corporate standards.

Dr Peter Middleton:
Peter Middleton is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. He received his PhD from Imperial College London and MBA from the University of Ulster. He co-authored the book ‘Lean Software Strategies’ published in 2005, and edited a book of case studies on applied Systems Thinking: ‘Delivering Public Services that Work’ in 2010. His research focus is combining Systems Thinking with lean software development to help organisations significantly improve their performance.


ISSP Sponsors: