Lean Software Management: The Radial Way
Radial Development Group builds software within the paradigm made famous by Eric Reis, in his book The Lean Startup. In this book, he details the manner in which many successful software ventures have applied the lessons of Toyota’s manufacturing methods to their businesses. This process is founded on the scientific method: always attempting to understand assumptions and to test hypotheses with collected data in an effort to eliminate uncertainty and risk from software development. At Radial, we mitigate the risk inherent in software development by breaking large challenges into small tasks; cycling through a process of planning, delivering, and validating our work; and adjusting our, and our clients’, assumptions and designs. This helps us create a virtuous cycle in which clients receive regular delivery of a constantly-improving project.
Knowing what to build is often very difficult, founded on the owner’s assumptions, which are often incorrect. In the lean paradigm, Radial engages with our customers to follow a process adapted from the Six Sigma “Five Whys” process. We attempt to understand the software user’s underlying motivations by asking “why” our clients feel they need features, and we build a version of the software designed to provide the primary kernel of the feature as rapidly as possible.
Once we have developed a user-deliverable feature for our customer, we assist our clients in applying data and metrics that validate their assumptions. This requires us to measure user behavior in a quantifiable manner, which eliminates the risk of our client asking that we build features that are not directly useful to end users.
Once the software and a system of measuring the impact of that software is delivered, it becomes clear whether development is moving in the right direction. At Radial, we take a moment at each stage in the process to look at the data we have collected with the client, reimplement the Five Whys process to determine what is working, and determine what iterative improvements to the project should be undertaken to advance the overall ambition of the project.
Fundamentally, software development is difficult, and at Radial, we do our best to remove as much of our clients’ risk from the process as possible. We believe that almost all software projects are fundamentally entrepreneurial in nature, and the application of a process designed to help software entrepreneurs succeed is a benefit to our clients. We believe in validated learning, well-designed metrics, continuous improvement, and relentless delivery of user-ready software.
Our work is intrinsically a feedback loop. We plan, deliver, and validate, forever.