Wednesday, May 27

The Gemba Walk Embraced in the Software Industry

The Gemba walk is deemed as a common lean process for learning a current process in order to take any action to improvise the process. Typically, you might see its utilization in the lean manufacturing, where you’d wander through a process, in purpose, in order to learn and understand the purpose, process and the individuals involved in building some kind of value or product. But, if you keenly notice the purpose of Gemba walk, it can be applied on the software industry as well. Not Gemba walking the software deployment process per se, but walking the process for the people we are building the software for.

Gemba Walk for Software Design

In the ongoing process of Gemba walk, you will be confronted with a variety of truths to a process:

  1. What the management believes or desires the process to be
  2. What process is determined to be
  3. What we aim for the process to be
  4. What the real process is

Every software is created for a purpose. And to accomplish that purpose, there is a need for learning and understanding by interacting with the product owner or the subject matter expert or the domain expert. But they can only help in answering the aspects of point 1 and 3. The actual gist of the process still cannot be attained with this approach.

Beyond learning and understanding the process, the second part is to look for improvement. In this approach, you have to be focused on how the software being designed can improvise the process entirely. Also, ponder on the ways the process can be improved without the software as well. In the second Gemba walk centralize on the process improvisations, particularly:

  1. How much time does it take to implement this step?
  2. How often this process has to be done?
  3. How much time does it take to move to the next step?
  4. Do you implement this task one at a time or is it done in batches?
  5. What are the exceptional cases?
  6. Look out for the Lean wastes
  7. What is the monetary value, time value etc. of the work?

When showcasing the software value, it is a good practice to possess that empirical data to display the improvements, all thanks to the Gemba walk. Focus on the lead time, cycle time, and throughput. It doesn’t have to be entirely accurate, but it can offer us an extra set of data for management to learn the potential and realized value of the software.