October 26, 2014

Lean Manufacturing and QuickBase

I visited a local a manufacturing company this morning. It’s a very interesting company—they make simulation software for various governmental agencies. As I was listening to their COO present a summary of their operations and then later as we toured the facility, it struck me how consistent the use of QuickBase is with a lot of the things they do to manage their work flow and their business. They emphasize:

Agile Software Development

According to Wikipedia, “Agile software development is a group of software development methodologies based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.”

Key principles include:

  • a focus on customer satisfaction through the rapid delivery of useful software
  • close cooperation and communication between developers and businesspeople
  • frequent delivery of software (days or weeks rather than months or years)
  • welcoming changing requirements, even late in development
  • a focus on simplicity

That sounds exactly like the typical development process for one of our QuickBase applications!

Quick Strike Approach

The COO made a point that that they believe it much better to deliver a “good” tool rapidly to 80% of the target audience than an “amazing” tool to 10% of the target audience a year later.

Again—very consistent with our typical development process (and philosophy) for a QuickBase application. The typical QuickBase application is not “perfect” (it doesn’t have every bell and whistle in the world) but it dramatically improves the business process that it relates to. And the development process is short (and the cost low), so the benefits are realized quickly.

Visual Management

On the facility floor, there were color coded charts and bulletin boards everywhere. The company seeks to use “visual management” where a manager can rapidly assess the state of work by quickly glancing at a board (that hopefully is filled with green).

QuickBase’s ability to color-code dashboards and reports means that a user can quickly identify important items that need attention. (If you were looking at the report to the right, what would you focus on?)

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The company I visited has been highly successful because they focus on rapidly delivering high-value software. We do the same thing (albeit with business software, not simulations!). If you would like to hear more about how we can help you manage growth and improve your key business processes, please give us a call.