When we apply lean systems thinking to IT software development and service delivery it is vital to keep in mind the fundamental principles of:
Maximise Value and Eliminate Waste
In principle, this approach represents sound advice. Constantly inspect and adapt your working practices and approach to ensure you are contributing the maximum amount of value possible to your products and services. Then, consistently reduce activities and working practices that do not deliver value or incur delay regarding the delivery of that value to the customer or consumer.
In practice, the definition of value is not always as obvious as one might expect, and deriving a practical means to measure our progress in the delivery of value can seem even more elusive. Without a clear value objective many project teams fall back to ‘proxy metrics’ to measure the effectiveness of development progress. By proxy metrics I refer to velocity, product burn-down and cycle time. These may all provide some view regarding the team’s effectiveness at turning abstract requirements into working products and services, but they do not describe the value those products and services deliver.