I’m certain that the Atlantic‘s Charles Fishman was not thinking software and DevOps when he wrote the excellent article about “The Insourcing Boom.” However, I strongly recommend reading this report for anyone who is interested in a practical example of the inefficiencies of software lean process (If you are impatient, jump to page 2 and search for toaster).
It’s important to realize that this article is not about software! It’s an article about industrial manufacturing and the impact that lean process has when you are making stuff. It’s about how US companies are using Lean to make domestic plants more profitable than Asian ones. It turns out that how you make something really matters – you can’t really optimize the system if you treat major parts like a black box.
When I talk about Agile and Lean, I am talking about proven processes being applied broadly to companies that want to make profit selling stuff. That’s what this article is about
If you are making software then you are making stuff! Your install and deploy process is your assembly line. Your unreleased code is your inventory.
This article does a good job explaining the benefits of being close to your manufacturing (DevOps) and being flexible in deployment (Agile) and being connected to customers (Lean). The software industry often acts like it’s inventing everything from scratch. When it comes to manufacturing processes, we can learn a lot from industry.
Unlike software, industry has real costs for scrap and lost inventory. Instead of thinking “old school” perhaps we should be thinking of it as the school of hard knocks.