Lean Software Development: What Is It & How Does It Work?

Lean software development offers a powerful approach that prioritizes value delivery, efficiency, and continuous improvement.

In today’s startup and software development landscape, efficiency is the name of the game. Gone are the days where you can just throw as many talent as possible to get the job done. Now, enterprises are craving for everything lean. 

In the tech world, lean software development is all about delivering maximum value to customers with minimal waste. Inspired by Toyota's production system, it streamlines processes, boosts efficiency, and enhances product quality. 

Let's break down its core principles and see why it's worth integrating into your workflow.

Eliminate Waste

Lean’s first goal is to eliminate waste—anything that doesn’t add value. Think redundant processes, excessive documentation, and unnecessary features. It’s about doing more with less and ensuring every step in your workflow has a purpose. Eric Ries emphasizes in The Lean Startup that eliminating waste is crucial for startups to efficiently use their limited resources.

Build Quality In

Quality isn’t an afterthought in Lean; it’s built in from the start. Testing and quality assurance are integrated throughout the development process, not just tacked on at the end. This approach reduces bugs and ensures higher quality from the get-go. 

Create Knowledge

Lean fosters a learning environment where teams continually improve their skills and processes. This principle encourages experimentation, reflection, and knowledge sharing, creating a culture of continuous improvement. According to Eric, learning is a fundamental aspect of Lean, allowing teams to pivot or persevere based on validated learning.

Defer Commitment

Lean teams make decisions at the last responsible moment. This flexibility allows them to adapt to changing requirements and ensure decisions are well-informed and timely, reducing the risk of early commitments. 

Deliver Fast

Lean is all about fast delivery. By shortening the development cycle, features and improvements reach customers as quickly as possible. This iterative approach allows for rapid feedback and adjustments, ensuring the product evolves with user needs. 

Respect People

Respecting people is crucial in Lean. Valuing team members and stakeholders, fostering collaboration, and recognizing contributions are key to its successful implementation. 

Optimize the Whole

Lean optimizes the entire value stream, not just individual parts. This holistic view ensures improvements across the entire process, from concept to delivery, enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness. 

Lean Techniques

Here are some of the few tools to help you practice lean:

  • Value Stream Mapping: Visualizes and analyzes the flow of work, identifying areas for improvement.
  • Kanban Boards: Manages workflow, tracks progress, and handles work-in-progress limits. Learn more about Kanban here.
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): Automates testing and deployment, ensuring quick integration and release of code changes.


Lean software development offers a powerful approach that prioritizes value delivery, efficiency, and continuous improvement. By adhering to its principles and leveraging its techniques, development teams can create high-quality software that meets customer needs while minimizing waste and inefficiencies. Whether you’re a startup or a large enterprise, adopting Lean practices can transform your development process and drive sustained success.At MPH, we’re committed to implementing Lean principles to enhance our development processes and deliver exceptional value to our clients. For more insights on software development methodologies, visit our blog. If you want to learn more about how Lean practices can benefit your organization, explore our services.

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Mike Hogan

Mike Hogan

My team and I build amazing web & mobile apps for our companies and for our clients. With over $2B in value built among our various companies including an IPO and 3 acquisitions, we've turned company building into a science.

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