REVIEW - Lean Software Development - An Agile Toolkit


Lean Software Development

An Agile Toolkit


Mary Poppendieck, Tom Poppendieck



Addison-Wesley Professional (2003)




Anthony Williams


February 2004



I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about producing quality software

If you're not convinced that Agile Software Development practices are at least worth investigating further after you've read this book, then you'll never be convinced. It is a well-written guide to the ideas behind Agile thinking, with plenty of references to other sources (the bibliography is 8 pages long); both those showing the benefits of Lean thinking in software and manufacturing, and the "original" sources for various techniques and methodologies. The interested reader therefore has plenty of material for ideas on where to go next, having accepted Agile practices as effective development practices.

The book divides lean thinking into 7 key principles, with 22 "tools" to help you adapt agile practices to your workplace. It also features a "try it out" section at the end of each chapter taking you through some simple steps that demonstrate how the particular techniques discussed can be applied to improve your software development process.

Some of these principles are obvious at first glance - "Eliminate Waste" for example - but this simplicity hides profound insight; in this case, the insight is that much of the "work products" of traditional software development processes are in fact waste, produced purely so the developer can "tick the box" and move onto the next task. Not only that, but the very process can itself generate waste - having analysts produce specs from customer requirements, which designers then turn into a high level design for coders to turn into software is very wasteful, because knowledge is lost at every stage; the very act of writing something down means that the understanding and background knowledge held by the author is lost, either permanently, or until the reader has acquired it for himself.

This book is aimed at project managers and lead developers looking for ways to improve their software development process, but I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about producing quality software. Whilst many Agile practices require management buy-in (and if you can get your manager to read this book, it will probably help), others can be implemented by developers as part of almost any process.

Highly Recommended.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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