Sven Akerman Jr. is the chief architect at Outlook Insight. Today he and the panel are talking about the process behind development, specifically how Sven helped improve the software development process at his previous employer. When he started, they had a formal Scrum/Agile process for the first 5 years, but recognized gaps using key performance indicators like turnaround time. So the company implemented the single piece flow method, which ensures that all developers are focused on one thing from start to finish before moving on. As a company, they have a maximum of 2 products in play at a time, with two in focus. Some of the benefits of single piece flow are that it reduces context switching and increases group knowledge and involvement. 

Sven talks about how the method was implemented in the company, and admits that it takes a really efficient delivery pipeline to move things this quickly. For those that don’t have much to do with a project, the ‘bored void’ was filled with a list of other important things to work on, finding ways to make their own improvements in an area, and automation. Sven found that the method scales well and works both in an office or remote. One of the biggest drawbacks of this method was the psychological barrier among the workers, as it was hard to get people to change the way things “have always been done”. He notes that conversations in meetings shifted from ‘me’ to ‘us’ since people were more aware of others’ work. This shift occurred naturally with the enforcement of the constraints, though it took a couple of months. Sven talks about more ways he saw things change. Charles and David discuss things about this method that interest them, such as shipping things quicker. They talk about possible difficulties with technical debt, which Sven found actually decreased over time. In order to get started with the single piece flow method, it is important to first understand where you’re at and the size and capabilities of your team before moving forward. 

Panelists

  • David Kumura

  • Charles Max Wood

Guest

  • Sven Akerman Jr.

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