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Can Lean Six Sigma be applied in the software industry? What are the wastes?

There’s waste in every industry, including the software industry. Depending on the department the waste would take different forms.

  1. Defects could either be bugs in the actual software, not developing the features requested by the customer, or shipping the wrong products at the end of the process;
  2. Overproduction could refer to shipping too much product in advance of demand;
  3. Waiting can happen in development or shipping;
  4. Non-Utilized Talent could refer to junior developers whoa are not trained in higher-level tools;
  5. Transportation refers to the number of times developers pass software back and forth to be edited, or the shipping of products to distribution centers;
  6. Inventory could be the build up requests for products;
  7. Motion might refer to the number of screens, applications and websites that staff have to click or open repeatedly and, finally,
  8. Excess Processing  could apply to developing features that no one uses.

Programming teams have made great use of a Lean method of process improvement called “Agile” which has been customized to enable software teams to conduct rapid feedback and rollout cycles. To learn more about “The 8 Wastes” – check out our Free Yellow Belt Training.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.