In a previous post I talked about the different types of waste in IT. In this article we will talk about the waste of overproduction
In manufacturing over production is making too many products before they are actually needed. Over production ties up capital in work in progress and excess product, takes up space and increases support costs. This reduces profit and the money available to build other products that customers want.
In IT over production means building and supporting features that are rarely or never used. In a 2002 study, the Standish Group found that in traditional waterfall software projects 64% of typical system features were rarely or never used.
Over production of features occurs often in traditional IT because stakeholders are only given one opportunity to present their system needs every 5 to 10 years. Recognizing that this is their only chance, stakeholders specify everything they’ve ever dreamed of with the hope that it will deliver value. IT project teams take these requirements without question on the assumption that stakeholders understand what users need.
The principles of Lean Manufacturing require that we make what the customer wants when they want it, pulling only what is ordered through your work flow. We can do this in IT by re-organising our work to deliver small batches of features frequently with cross functional teams that have a short cycle time from feature request to delivery combined with a customer feedback loop to determine if users really want what we delivered or need something else instead. This aligns well with one of the key principles of Agile IT which is that “our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”. For guidance on how to implement a customer feedback loop take a look at The Lean Startup.
In my next post I will examine waste from over processing in IT.