Enthusiasm for Lean is spreading at NewIcon with the focus now on software development

NewIcon began to the continuous development of their processes in 2015 when the company invested in an ERP system based on the Lean method. In 2018, Lean was used to shake up the deep-rooted working methods in the product development team and now the method is applied to streamlining the software development process. Thanks to the new development cooperation model, the company can offer its customers more functional and user-friendly software solutions.

The new model means that customers are involved in the early design stages of software development. Software development also serves NewIcon’s own product development operations that guide the software development process from the customer’s perspective.

“In the traditional model, the software would be fully developed before the first release, leaving the customer with very limited opportunities to influence the functions of the software, and making changes costly and time-consuming,” says Tomi Hirvonen, Software Development Manager at NewIcon.

The work process is divided into the three-week ‘sprints’

The software development team has adopted the Scrum model, a tool that divides the work process into three-week ‘sprints’. The sprint begins with a detailed plan of the work for the upcoming period, and ends with a demo or software release.

“At the end of each sprint, we have what we call a demo day for presenting the new software to product management. This allows us to steer the development in the desired direction in cycles of no more than three weeks, compared to our old process with a cycle of several months,” says Hirvonen.

On demo day, the development version of the software is presented, and a release means that the customer, such as a partnering health care district, is given the opportunity to test the software in practice in their own testing environment.

Advanced processes are most visible in daily management models

The Lean reform of software development processes began in April 2019. Weekly workshops have been used to clarify the current state of software development, identify problem issues and define goals, for example.

“We have used the Lean method to examine the entire software development process: software design, development, testing, documentation, and release. We have created a whole new operating model for the team. We stripped this model from everything that is unnecessary, meaning the issues and stages in the process that do not add value,” Hirvonen describes.

In the operations of NewIcon, the advanced processes are most visible in the daily management models. Each morning starts with a ten-minute team meeting that includes a brief discussion of the topical issues of the day, as well as any deviations from the previous day.

“If we need to, we can make quick decisions in the team meetings. Thanks to the new meeting policy, we can dedicate our weekly meetings to long-term planning rather than topical issues. With our transparent flow of information that keeps everyone updated on the next three weeks, we may not always need weekly meetings,” Hirvonen continues.

Planning how to achieve goals is a team effort

According to Hirvonen, the employees’ attitude to change has been positive. The new process makes work easier every day, with the steady pace creating clarity.

“We are definitely excited about Lean, and our employees have seen the benefits of process development quickly. I also think that having the team work together and plan how to achieve goals makes it easier for them to commit to work. Our software development team has a genuine desire to evolve and improve their performance,” Hirvonen says, proudly.