Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Going Lean will save your time in Software Development Lifecycle

Eliminate wastage is a Lean software principle. In the software product development life-cycle, we can avoid the wastage of time and resources in many ways and in-turn we can invest our time productively in building a product and give a better customer experience. This post covers some basic things we can implement in project to save our time and  also improve the overall quality of the product.

No Grepping

Having a better log analysis and monitoring mechanism saves overall project time. Don't waste time in grepping or FTP ing the log files. You can have a look on Splunk Log Management ( to get an understanding of log collection, analysis and monitoring. You can also build your own implementation.

Some technical pointers if you want to build your own implementation..

Log everything in same time stamp, preferably UTC.
Have a common  log data  format everywhere from server logs, audit logs, application logs. etc.  Explore JSON logging
Log Processing - Check Logstash (  Hadoop can be used in specific use cases.            
Searchable Log Repository - Elasticsearch. can be a good choice
For Analytics and Insights - You can use Pig/Hive, Hbase, RedShift, Impala, Google BigQuery  or any other relevant tool
Have an alert Mechanism for important events specifically on error scenario, suspicious events.

Searchable Product Repository /WIKI & moderate it

Have a product repository with WIKI along with a good search feature (Example: Don't maintain the project documents in the file system or in version control systems like svn. Lot of time would be wasted in searching  and maintaining it.

What can go into this repository?.

- Project functional/ requirement documents
- Technical/architectural documents
- Specific problem encountered during development and ways to resolve .
- Reason for technical /functional design decisions
- Important project/business insights
- Research documents
- Problem encountered at system level( Examples: Memory /Space Issues in the environment) and the resolution
- Environment related like server information, background processes .etc
- Code Workflow

and any other relevant documents

Have this repository without moderation is of no use. Avoid unwanted articles dumped into it and maintain the overall quality.

Don't be a human keyboard

There are tasks like this in every project

- FTP ing the files
- Clear temporary files to retrieve disk space
- Monitor the CPU/Memory
- Apply software patches
- Install software
- Replicate the environment
- Look something specific in logs and alert

 Build some handy tools to accomplish these types of task. Automate the process if necessary.

Continuous Integration, Deployments - with automated tests

Automate the whole deployment process and have a continuous integration. Use tools like bamboo (  for continuous integration and to create build plans. No manual intervention should be there in any build and deployment process. Also have your tests integrated with the build process.

Test Suites and Test Plans - Do wonders

  • Have a clear strategy when creating TestSuites, Test Plans and Unit Tests.
  • Create specific test plans for various tests like Smoke Test, Sanity Test .etc.
  • Schedule to run the test plans automatically. It helps to see the problems pro-actively and also saves considerable time in a longer run.

You can use the bamboo tool mentioned earlier to maintain the test plans and scheduling.

Code Review - A must to have & better with a tool

Code Review should be part of the development. Have a proper tool to collaboratively review and add comments. (Example: It helps to saves considerable time in longer run and also increases the overall quality of the product.

Think beyond opensource tools

Invest in tools like Jira, wiki. etc (or)  which ever tool you can afford. Just compare the licencing cost (mostly it is pay as you go)  with overall productivity you are going to get. Also compare the cost per hour you spend for a developer with the hours eventually the tool will save for you.


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