Software Quality Journal

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 241–252

Lean Software Development: Two Case Studies

  • Peter Middleton


This paper shows how the concepts of lean manufacturing can be successfully transferred from the manufacture of cars and electrical goods to software development. The key lean concept is to minimize work in progress, so quickly forcing any production problems into the open. Production is then halted to allow each problem with the system producing the goods, to be permanently corrected. While frustrating at first, the end result is very high levels of productivity and quality.

Large industrial companies are beginning to transfer their lean production expertise to their in-house software development projects. The two case studies reported here confirm that lean software development can produce rapid quality and productivity gains. A major implementation issue is that lean software development may require deep changes in the way an organization is managed.

lean software development just-in-time quality zero-defects mistake-proofing productivity management organizational change 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abegglen, J.C. and Stalk, G. 1985. Kaisha, The Japanese Corporation, New York, Basic Books.Google Scholar
  2. Boehm, B. 1981. Software Engineering Economics, Englewood Cliffs, New York, Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Collins, J.C. and Porras, J.I. 1998. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, London, Century.Google Scholar
  4. Cunningham, J.B. 1993. Action Research and Organizational Development, Westport, CT, Praeger.Google Scholar
  5. Fagan, M.E. 1976. Design and code inspections to reduce errors in program development, IBM Systems J. 15(3): 182-211.Google Scholar
  6. Gilb, T. 1988. Principles of Software Engineering Management, Wokingham, England, Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  7. Gilb, T. and Graham, D. 1993. Software Inspection, Wokingham, England, Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  8. Hamilton, T. 1999. A Lean Software Engineering System for the Department of Defense, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MSc Thesis.Google Scholar
  9. Hou, A.C. 1995. Toward Lean Hardware/Software System Development: Evaluation of Selected Complex Electronic System Development Methodologies, Report—Lean 95-01, Lean Aircraft Initiative, Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scholar
  10. Humphrey, W.S. 1998. Why don't they practice what we preach? Annals of Software Eng. 6: 201-222.Google Scholar
  11. Lee, A.S. and Baskerville, R.L. 2001. Generalizing Generalizability in Information Systems Research, seminar paper presented at The Queen's University of Belfast, 2 May.Google Scholar
  12. Morgan, T. 1998. Lean Manufacturing Techniques Applied to Software Development, MSc Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  13. Ohno, T. 1988. Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Cambridge, MA Productivity Press.Google Scholar
  14. Pascale, R.T. 1990. Managing on the Edge, London, Viking.Google Scholar
  15. Paulk, M.C., Curtis, B., Chrissis, M.B., and Weber, C.V. 1993. Capability maturity model, version 1.1, IEEE Software 10(4): 18-27.Google Scholar
  16. Raman, S. 1998. Lean software development: Is it feasible? 17th Digital Avionics Systems Conf., New York, IEEE, pp. 13-18.Google Scholar
  17. Robinson, A.G. and Stern, S. 1998. Corporate Creativity: How Innovation and Improvement Actually Happen, San Francisco, CA, Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  18. Schonberger, R.J. 1986. World Class Manufacturing, New York, The Free Press.Google Scholar
  19. Schulmeyer, G. 1990. Zero Defect Software, New York, McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  20. Seddon, J. 1997. In Pursuit of Quality: The Case Against ISO 9000, London, Oaktree Press.Google Scholar
  21. Sutton, J.M. 1996. Lean software for lean aircraft, 15th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, New York, IEEE, pp. 49-54.Google Scholar
  22. Tierney, J. 1993. Eradicating mistakes from your software process through Poka Yoke, Proc. 6th Inte. Software Quality Week, Software Research Institute, San Francisco, CA, May, pp. 300-307.Google Scholar
  23. Whyte, William F. 1991. Participatory Action Research, London, Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Womack, J.P. and Jones, D.T. 1997. Lean Thinking, London, Touchstone Books.Google Scholar
  25. Womack, J.P. and Jones, D.T. 1994. From lean production to the lean enterprise, Harvard Business Rev. 72(2): 93-103.Google Scholar
  26. Womack, J.P., Jones D.T., and Ross, D. 1990. The Machine that Changed the World, New York, Rawson Associates.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Middleton
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceThe Queen's University of BelfastBelfastUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations