A software factory applies manufacturing techniques and principles to the software engineering process to mimic the benefits of traditional manufacturing such as consistency, throughput, and quality checks. An organization utilizing a software factory will realize the benefit of more quickly releasing higher quality products with less costs and risks.
Experienced Software Factories (ESF)
Despite the benefits of software factories, organizations will become vulnerable if they do not have a systemic approach to continually improve on how they engineer, test, package, and release as well as how they operate as an organization.
An ESF applies the sociotechnical methodology Lean Manufacturing, to establish and maintain a culture that focuses on the minimization of waste throughout processes while maximizing productivity. The continual application of Lean Manufacturing within software factories eliminate activities that add no value, identifies manual activities that need to be automated, and challenges teams to reduce the time to complete automated and manual activities.
What’s Excluded in Software Factories
Most notably missing from software factories are pre-manufacturing (e.g. ideation, planning, etc.) and post-manufacturing (e.g. post-release activities like messaging, documentation, support, etc.) activities.
Being transparent with the identification of all pre and post manufacturing activities provides the best opportunity to truly know and then lean the end-to-end process.
Software factories do not include pre-engineering activities because they are highly social in nature with the need to ideate and plan requirements that, often, contain ambiguity, bigness, and complexity (The ABC’s). While these activities may not seem as difficult compared to engineering activities, they are no less important because a requirement with errors or omission built “perfectly” is still wrong.
Post-activities need to be part of the actual software factory as its been our observation that they are rarely value-add, understood, consistent, or documented. Extending the assembly to meet this need, with the Lean Manufacturing-mindset, will reduce the effort to just value-add activities that are ideally, automated.
Going Beyond with Experienced Solution Factories TM
Include Pre-Manufacturing Activities
To meet the challenge of continual improvement with pre-manufacturing activities as well as other operational needs we employ Agile and popular team frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, ScrumBan, and eXtreme Programming (XP). We do not intentionally employ scaling frameworks (LeSS, DAD, Nexus, SAFe, etc.) because organizations tend to focus on the framework vice the solutions.
Additionally, we apply Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) to help ensure teams have what they need to Build-the-Right-Thing at the Right-Time. To learn more about LPM we do offer tailored and workshops.
Include Post-Manufacturing Activities
An ESF needs to extend their CI/CD capabilities by automating the post-release activities such as documentation, notifications, etc. to meet organizational requirements while eliminating / reducing the human-element and the typical errors and omissions that often occur.
Additionally, an efficient ESF will incorporate feedback cycles for telemetry data (accessibility, usability, performance, usage, security, etc.) for consideration into the pre-manufacturing process. Its been our observation over the years that the use of telemetry data is never to rarely used for consideration yet has direct impact on solution efficiency and usability.
Take your organization beyond Agile with personalized onsite training and workshops on Experienced Software and Solution Factories.