This research redefines our understanding of software development waste. This presentation reveals the first evidence-based software development waste taxonomy.

Software development projects manifest nine types of waste: building the wrong feature or product, mismanaging the backlog, rework, unnecessarily complex solutions, extraneous cognitive load, psychological distress, waiting/multitasking, knowledge loss, and ineffective communication.

While Lean Software Development has a waste taxonomy, Lean Sofware Development mapped manufacturing wastes to software development.

Developing software is fundamentally different than assembly line work.

The Pivotal culture of removing waste does align nicely with many of the goals of Lean Software Development.

Since software development is a complex socio-technical activity that involves coordinating different disciplines and skill sets, it provides ample opportunities for waste to emerge. Waste is any activity that produces no value for the customer or user.

I conducted a two-year five-month participant-observation study of eight software development projects at Pivotal, a software development consultancy. I interviewed 33 software engineers, interaction designers, and product managers, and analyzed one year of retrospection topics.

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