Agile software development, Knowledge workers and Lean thinking as a management system
The case lends itself to students of business management, or aspiring consultants, who have been exposed to operations management in general and Lean thinking specifically. It is an advanced case study, assuming prior knowledge in these subjects and approaches the subject matter from an organisational development point of view, rather than a pure operations point of view. It is thus well suited to an elective on operational excellence on an MBA or in executive education courses in Lean thinking
The case starts with Mark, manager of a software development team, hearing that he will have budget for two new developers who will join his team in the coming year. While the extra help could be useful, he was considering what the impact of new people would be on the productivity of the team, which he felt was already stretched. Mark continues to consider the entire development chain and how code changes were implemented to ACSESim’s (the company’s primary product) graphical user interfaces. Having recently been acquired by an American company, he was also under pressure to start to adopt some of the parent company’s systems, which would constitute a fairly disruptive, but necessary, change, particularly for future collaborations with other developers in the parent company. With two new developers, experience taught Mark that development could slow down owing to training efforts. To minimise disruption, he was wondering about how to get the new developers up-to-speed quickly and streamline their operations within a changing corporate environment. The case highlights the different mechanisms that were in place at ACSESim, including the use of issue trackers; Kanban boards; version control software; automated systems; stand-up meetings, etc. Each of these mechanisms is discussed briefly and shows the value they added to the development practices that were in place. This also allows students to understand Agile practices and what Lean thinking might mean in a knowledge work environment and then to consider what the proposed changes might mean and how they could be deployed.
Expected learning outcomes
To gain an understanding of how Lean and Agile principles can be applied in a software development environment and Lean knowledge work in general To consider the best way to manage new hires so that they can become productive in a Lean or Agile software development environment, whilst dealing with pressures to migrate to new systems.
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CSS: 9: Operations and Logistics.
This case has been produced for teaching purposes. Note that the name of the organisation, its products and some of its history have been modified to protect the anonymity of the organisation and its employees. No changes were made that are considered relevant to the learning objectives of the case and all of the operational data are factual. The authors acknowledge and thank the organization for participating in the development of the case study.
Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names; financial and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.
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