Measuring the flow in lean software development

Document type: Journal Articles
Article type: Original article
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Kai Petersen, Claes Wohlin
Title: Measuring the flow in lean software development
Journal: Software: Practice and Experience
Year: 2011
Volume: 41
Issue: 9
Pagination: 975-996
ISSN: 0038-0644
Publisher: Wiley Interscience
URI/DOI: 10.1002/spe.975
ISI number: 000292737400004
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Computing (Sektionen för datavetenskap och kommunikation)
School of Computing S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: Responsiveness to customer needs is an important goal in agile and lean software development. One major aspect is to have a continuous and smooth flow that quickly delivers value to the customer. In this paper we apply cumulative flow diagrams to visualize the flow of lean software development. The main contribution is the definition of novel measures connected to the diagrams to achieve the following goals: (1) increase throughput and reduce lead-time to achieve high responsiveness to customers' needs and (2) to provide a tracking system that shows the progress/status of software product development. An evaluation of the measures in an industrial case study showed that practitioners found them useful and identify improvements based on the measurements, which were in line with lean and agile principles. Furthermore, the practitioners found the measures useful in seeing the progress of development for complex products where many tasks are executed in parallel. The measures are now an integral part of the improvement work at the studied company.
Subject: Software Engineering\General
Keywords: lean, flow, process improvement