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Investments in Lean Agile Software Development Training: The Impact on Productivity and Financial Performance

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Document pages: 37 pages

Abstract: This paper investigates whether investments in lean agile software development via training, specifically retraining and coaching, increase software development productivity and produce commensurate improvements in financial performance of the software development firm. Two experiments involving software development teams were conducted using treatment and control groups. One experiment focused on lean agile retraining and the other focused on lean agile coaching. The treatment group received a multi-day lean agile development retraining exercise designed to enhance existing skills. In the coaching experiment, a treatment group received monthly coaching for a three-month period. In the retraining experiment, cycle time, the average number of days to complete a story, decreased 81 for those retrained compared to a 23 reduction for the control group. There were similar improvements in throughput, flow efficiency and work-in-process, all measurements of productivity. In the coaching experiment, the treatment group realized a 52 decrease in cycle time compared to a 15 decrease for the control group. Again, there were comparable improvements in other productivity measures. These improvements resulted in a 6.2 and 6.1 reduction in development costs after retraining and coaching, respectively. This empirical analysis uniquely uses experimental design and incorporates the financial impact of the operational improvements of lean agile software training. It applies productivity and financial metrics associated with manufacture of tangible products and applies these measures to intangible software products. Because operational improvements are not apparent to many senior executives unless the financial impact is understood, this analysis should encourage further investments in training.

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