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Written by Talan

Lean Agile: The competitive edge in Manufacturing Product Development

Lean Agile is a methodology that combines the principles of Lean, which focuses on reducing waste, and Agile, which emphasizes speed and flexibility in delivering value. Together, these approaches offer significant benefits that can transform the way an organization designs and delivers its products. These benefits include reduced time to market for product and services, increased flexibility and responsiveness while reducing risk across the whole organization.

By reviewing processes, management framework and tools you can use to support your organization, we will show you how to implement this methodology in your manufacturing business.



How to Define Your Processes and Deliverables

When diving into a Lean Agile optimization project, it's crucial to clearly define your processes and segment them into actionable phases. Each one should be tailored to produce a deliverable, and supported by clearly outlined roles within your teams.

This approach enables your organization to move toward simultaneous engineering, in which design, manufacturing, and assembly processes run in parallel through collaborative work. Implementing Lean and Agile methodologies from the ideation phase and maintaining them throughout every stage of your process ensures a quicker time-to-market. This method harnesses the full potential of your team's expertize precisely when needed, enhancing operational efficiency, driving innovation, and ensuring a lasting competitive advantage.

Segment your project into deliverables

As you segment your product development project into phases, be sure to identify the value and scope of deliverables associated with each segment. Keep these 3 steps in mind to help you:

  1. Define the value of the deliverable: This will help avoid over or under-quality of the deliverable and thus maintain the efficiency of your production. Choosing the value of the deliverable in advance is also a way to force an agreement with the customer on this point. This eliminates much of the back and forth after production, as the customer knows what to expect. 
  2. Define the template and purpose of the deliverable: This saves time during its completion. By specifying its dimensions and their relevance, you ensure proper compliance. It also reduces your team's learning curve and eliminates wasted time experimenting during execution.
  3. Develop a checklist: By listing all the criteria for what constitutes a "good deliverable" and reviewing them upon completion, you ensure its integrity. This allows you to both correct and limit errors in the future.

How to align Lean Agile management with the Scrum methodology.

Scrum is a framework that, through the implementation of time-bound and repetitive work cycles, supports the segmentation of your product development. To help you understand its principle, some specific vocabulary will help. These work cycles, called "Sprints", focus on the execution of logically grouped product deliverables. These deliverables are only a part of the final product, whose entire development effort is called the “product backlog”. This iterative framework relies on key roles with clear and distinct responsibilities, which we will explore below:

Key Roles of Scrum Teams

  • The Product Owner represents the customer and embodies the product vision. As such, he is responsible for defining and prioritizing the logical work segments within the product backlog he owns. 
  • The Scrum Master is a leader who supports the team in practicing the Scrum framework of which he is the guardian. 
  • The development team is self-organized, consisting of 5-7 people with a diverse set of skills and expertize. They’re the ones who create value! Design, develop, plan... They deliver during every Sprint. 

In the manufacturing industry we often call it the Scrum Team!

At Talan, we help you adapt this framework to your reality. Here are 2 roles that are sometimes added to the typical ones:

  • During the sales phase, the technical sales engineer consults with the customer and aligns the desired product concept with the company's standards. 
  • The project manager: Integrating this role into a self-organizing Scrum team may not be immediately apparent. However, depending on your company's specifics, it can prove useful in resource and budget management. At Talan, we tailor the framework of the method to the on-the-ground reality of our partners.

Scrum Elements

The complementary strengths of Scrum team members enable them to efficiently deliver high-value, tangible outcomes, enhancing productivity and innovation. Here are the 7 elements of the Scrum framework your team will need to implement to optimize your product development according to the Lean Agile method.

Element 1. The Deliverable Backlog (or the Product Backlog)

With the help of your product owner, develop a prioritized list of everything that could create work for your team: product segments, enhancements, and any tasks that lead to a tangible deliverable. We prefer deliverables of 4 to 6 hours' effort.

Element 2. Sprint Planning 

To effectively plan a Sprint, consider what your team can realistically accomplish during this time-limited work cycle. This involves the product owner and development team meeting to select items from the backlog to include in the Sprint.

Element 3. The Sprint Backlog

The product of the previous step, i.e., the list of tasks to be accomplished during your Sprint.

Element 4. The Sprint 

Over the course of a week (Talan's preferred Sprint time), your development team will complete the tasks listed above, potentially leading to the execution of a project segment. 

Element 5. Sprint Review 

At the end of each Sprint, bring your team together to present the completed deliverables. This is also an opportunity to get feedback from stakeholders and the Product Owner.

Element 6. The Sprint Retrospective 

If the Sprint review focuses on results, the retrospective focuses on practices. This step allows you to identify strengths and weaknesses to continuously improve the work.

Element 7. Tangible Deliverables

They are the tangible outcomes of the work done during your Sprints, representing the culmination of all Scrum stages. A tangible deliverable may include the execution or correction of a product segment or other specified items in the Sprint backlog.


 What technology tools support Lean Agile?

Several tools can help you support your Scrum framework and thus your Lean Agile optimization project. Here is an overview of the most commonly used technology solutions:

To support the project history

  • OneNote: A collaborative note-taking tool used to document information, ideas, and discussions during Scrum meetings.
  • Confluence: A collaborative platform for creating, sharing, and organizing content. 
To support task planning and follow-up

You can choose the software that best suits your needs: 

  • Jira: This is our team's favorite tool. Jira is a project management software that’s specially designed for agile teams. It allows you to create and track tasks, manage the product backlog, plan Sprints, and track the progress of work throughout the project lifecycle. Here are just a few examples of what this software can do for you:
    • Jira reduces email usage by enabling project communication directly through the platform. Any project-related request can be sent to the appropriate team board and tracked in real time. This also increases visibility into project progress while reducing pressure on often overburdened engineering teams.
    • Jira is also an excellent tool for continuous improvement, thanks to its numerous metrics that enable teams to develop targeted action plans for better planning.
  • Trello is a visual, table-based project management tool that helps individuals and teams organize, prioritize, and manage tasks efficiently. Using a card and board system, it allows users to track progress, set deadlines, assign tasks, and collaborate in real-time.
  • Asana is also dedicated to project management, offering a platform for teams to plan projects by creating tasks, assigning responsibilities, setting deadlines, and tracking progress. Its features include task dependencies, project timelines, real-time collaboration, integration with other tools, and customizable templates, ensuring projects stay on track and enhancing efficiency for teams of all sizes.
  • Azure is a comprehensive toolset for project management that includes source code management for efficient version control and collaboration, task tracking for monitoring progress and assigning responsibilities, and agile planning for iterative development. 

What indicators should be mobilized to support continuous improvement?

Some metrics will be more useful than others to measure your performance in executing your Lean Agile project. Here are those we believe provide useful metrics for management and continuous improvement:

  • Departmental workload planning will enable you to measure and balance the workload across your various teams.
  • Measuring the number of hours dedicated to a specific expertize in the deliverable backlog will help you determine the type of work to be done according to skill profiles. It will also be useful for planning your hiring.
  • Sprint velocity is a measure of the amount of work a team can accomplish during a Sprint. This metric provides a baseline for future planning, allowing your team to more accurately forecast work capacity.
  • Assessing the accuracy of time estimates compared to the actual time required to complete a task is a surefire way to improve your planning.


To conclude

At Talan, our consultants support you in implementing your Lean Agile project to eliminate waste and optimize the efficiency of your manufacturing production. Learn more about the origins of this method and get in touch with us to explore how Lean Agile can unlock the full potential of your manufacturing business.


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