Of the many Kaizen techniques I have been reading about recently, one that recently struck my attention is different types of logging that can be included in the process. More broadly, they fall into the category of Muda (the Japanese term for waste or superfluousness) and have a goal of reducing unnecessary efforts than can produce inefficiencies in software development or other forms of production.
Types of Logs
While variation exists among those implementing Kaizen on which set of logs works best, some of those that are commonly implemented are as follows:
- Risks Log - used to record potential pitfalls such as those that could require rework or affect product quality
- Issues Log - used to record difficulties during the cycle such as bottlenecks encountered or extra research time that was required
- Debt Log - used to record possible ways in which a current decision may have a negative impact down the road
- Recycle Log - used to record means by which ideas and feedback may be incorporated to minimize future waste on an ongoing basis
After the optimal set of logs has been determined, the most important part is to make them useful in the process of improving future development cycles. Whether the entries were made during the planning meetings from the previous cycle or along the way as the development cycle progressed, they are only of value if they are reviewed later for opportunities to gain efficiencies. To do this, it is essential that they be reviewed at the end of the cycle with a goal of determining which items need to implement a waste reduction plan. It is important that all necessary personal that would be responsible for both devising these plans and executing them be involved in this process.
While the current project I have been working on is nearly complete, I have given some thought to how a Kaizen logging progress could have been applied to the development processes I have used. Specific examples I may have included in a log are as follows:
- Risks Log - what precautions must be taken to ensure the a user is granted access to the correct set of data?
- Debt Log - will the maintenance level increase outweigh the cost of refactoring?
- Recycle Log - what is the most efficient design for the new database objects that will be required?