With the tremendous success of some start-ups in Silicon Valley being attributed to Lean Methodology (read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries), more and more companies are demanding similar adventure in SAP projects. As companies are struggling to bring in the culture, some do wonder whether the entire exercise is worth the effort.
Lean Methodology is to iteratively analyze and develop which slices the entire project plan into small time frames which are essentially bite size replicas of the larger process. This involves Validated Learning which is one of the core elements of the process. Agile Software Development Process is based on the principle of Lean Methodology. What does it mean?
Let me give an example – a Sales person Jack want a UI to create a sales order. He gives the SD consultant Bobby everything he needs on the screen based on his understanding. Bobby develops an FS based on his understanding and provides it to ABAPer Lyndon. Now Lyndon will treat FS as writing on stone and develop a UI with ECC backend. When Jack receives it, he realizes lots of changes are required because he overlooked few minor things and they lead to even bigger changes in backend. In a real world, it is a highly likely situation and it tends to blow up the budget by a great margin.
How will Lean Methodology handle it? By employing Validated Learning. The idea is to build a workable mockup and validate whether the requirement matched the development. First, the front end is fixed after creasing out any inconsistencies and then focus on the backend.
Lyndon will provide a mock up screen to Jack after detailed discussion with Bobby. It will help Jack understand how the outcome will look like. Then Jack and Bobby will come up changes and Lyndon will create a prototype. That prototype will be improved with multiple cycles of review and discussions and finally, the deliverable will be provided. It is cost effective and saves time as well. Cohesive engagement between resources ensures a quality product with the minimal discrepancy of understanding.
To answer the big question, this is an extensive process and depends a lot on interactions between resources. It can be extremely helpful change in the regular development process with remarkable cost and time benefits. The biggest difference is the quality in case of changes which are not very clear at the point of beginning. That is the reason that even in standard projects, architects follow this methodology for certain objects. So, there is the answer.