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Lean Thinking Applied to System Architecting


Publication Type:

Doctoral Thesis


Mälardalen University


Software-intensive systems are increasingly part of new products, which leads to significant business impact. This is especially true for the automotive industry where a majority of new innovations are realized through the use of software. The architecture of the software-intensive system will enable value creation when working properly or, in the worst case, prevent value creation. Lean Thinking is about focusing on the increase of customer value and on the people who add value. This thesis investigates how system architecting is performed in industry and how it can be improved through the use of Lean Thinking. The architecting process does not create immediate value to the end customer, but instead creates the architecture on which value, in terms of product features and functionality, can be developed. A Lean tool used to improve the value creation within a process is Value Stream Mapping (VSM). We present a method based on VSM which is adapted to enable analysis of the architecting process in order to identify improvements. A study of architecting at two companies shows what effect differences such as a strong line organization or a strong project organization have on the architecting process. It also shows the consequences technical choices and business strategy have on the architecting process. In order to improve the understanding of how architecting is performed, a study was carried out, including interviewing architects at six different well-known international companies. The study presents the practices that were found to be most successful. The context of the different companies as well as the architecting practices are compared and analyzed. The early design decisions made when developing software-intensive systems are crucial to the outcome of development projects. In order to improve the decision-making process a method based on Real Options was developed. The method improves the customer focus of critical design decisions by taking the value of flexibility into account. This thesis provides a toolbox of knowledge on how Lean Thinking can be applied to system architecting and also presents how architecting is performed in industry today.


author = {H{\aa}kan Gustavsson},
title = {Lean Thinking Applied to System Architecting},
number = {95},
month = {February},
year = {2011},
school = {M{\"a}lardalen University},
url = {}