How to Combine Agile and Lean Together to Optimize Production

Many companies today need to control costs while increasing sales to maintain a competitive edge. For companies that depend on manufactured parts or goods, this translates into an imperative to streamline production and increase their plant floor's effectiveness. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Alan MacLamroc explains how to increase your manufacturing efficiencies by using the agile and lean development methodologies together.


Many businesses today seek to control costs, streamline production and increase plant floor effectiveness. Achieving these goals is possible, though businesses can take radically different approaches to get there.

There are two distinct development methodologies that offer generally accepted ways to increase manufacturing efficiencies: lean and agile. The lean development methodology strictly focuses on value through waste minimization. The agile development methodology extends its vision to creating more value with less work. Utilizing a combined approach offers businesses the highest-quality finished goods with the lowest production costs.

Agile development methodology

Ideally, an agile approach to production helps achieve aggressive market delivery targets while maintaining cost structures that are responsive to-or ahead of-current economic conditions. One of the best ways to understand this principle comes from John Zachman, who originated the Zachman Framework. He laid the foundation for best practices in IT processes from development through architecture and governance.

One of Zachman's most memorable predictions about IT was couched in an analogy about the plant floor: that software would someday be created like a manufacturer produces a new good, with solutions made to order. Service-oriented architectures (SOAs) and agile processes have made Zachman's prediction a reality, as solutions for both discrete and process manufacturing companies have the power to bring manufacturing disciplines to bear in IT. Businesses can extend that capability, and therefore the ability to precisely deliver with high-quality solutions, by leveraging these manufacturing concepts.