After WWII Toyota started developing its Toyota Production System (TPS); which was identified as ‘Lean’ in the 1990s. Taiichi Ohno, Shigeo Shingo and Eiji Toyoda developed the system between 1948 and 1975. In the myth surrounding the system it was not inspired by the American automotive industry, but from a visit to American supermarkets, Ohno saw the supermarket as model for what he was trying to accomplish in the factor and perfect the Just-in-Time (JIT) production system. While accomplishing this low inventory levels were a key outcome of the TPS, and an important element of the philosophy behind its system is to work intelligently and eliminate waste so that only minimal inventory is needed.
As TPS and Lean have their own principles as outlined by Toyota:
- Long-term Philosophy
- Right process will produce the right results
- Value to organization by developing people
- Solving root problems drives organizational learning
As these principles were summed up and published by Toyota in 2001, by naming it “The Toyota Way 2001”. It consists the above named principles in two key areas: Continuous Improvement, and Respect for People.
The principles for a continuous improvement include establishing a long-term vision, working on challenges, continual innovation, and going to the source of the issue or problem. The principles relating to respect for people include ways of building respect and teamwork. When looking at the ALM all these principles come together in the ‘first time right’ approach already mentioned. And from Toyota’s view they were outlined as followed:
- The right process will produce the right results
- Continuously solving root problems drives organizational learning
- Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation (Genchi Genbutsu);
- Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options (nemawashi); implement decisions rapidly;
- Become a learning organization through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen).
Let’s do it right now!
As the economy is changing and IT is more common sense throughout ore everyday life the need for good quality software products has never been this high. Software issues create bigger and bigger issues in our lives. Think about trains that cannot ride due to software issues, bank clients that have no access to their bank accounts, and people oversleeping because their alarm app didn’t work on their iPhone. As Capers Jones [Jones, 2011] states in his 2011 study that “software is blamed for more major business problems than any other man-made product” and that “poor quality has become one of the most expensive topics in human history”. The improvement of software quality is a key topic for all industries.
Right the first time vs jidoka
In both TPS and Lean autonomation or jidoka are used. Autonomation can be described as ‘intelligent autonomation’, it means that when an abnormal situation arises the ‘machine’ stops and fix the abnormality. Autonomation prevents the production of defective products, eliminates overproduction, and focuses attention on understanding the problem and ensuring that it never recurs; a quality control process that applies the following four principles:
- Detect the abnormality.
- Fix or correct the immediate condition.
- Investigate the root cause and install a countermeasure.
Find defects as early as possible
In other words autonomation helps to get quality right the first time perfectly. With IT projects being different from the Toyota car production line, ‘perfectly’ may be a bit too much, but the process around quality assurance should be the same:
- Find the defect.
- Fix or correct the error.
- Investigate the root cause and take countermeasures.
The defect should be found as early as possible to be fixed as early as possible. And as with Lean and TPS the reason behind this is to make it possible to address the identification and correction of defects immediately in the process.