Marko Ikonen defends his PhD thesis on December 19th, 2011, on Lean Thinking in Software Development

MSc Marko Ikonen will defend his doctoral thesis Lean Thinking in Software Development: Impacts of Kanban on Projects on Monday December 19th, 2011 at noon in the University of Helsinki Main Building, Unioninkatu 34, Auditorium XII (old part), 3rd floor. The defense will be held in Finnish.

Lean Thinking in Software Development: Impacts of Kanban on Projects

The history of software development in a somewhat systematical way has been performed for half a century. Despite this time period, serious failures in software development projects still occur. The pertinent mission of software project management is to continuously achieve more and more successful projects. The application of agile software methods and more recently the integration of Lean practices contribute to this trend of continuous improvement in the software industry. One such area warranting proper empirical evidence is the operational efficiency of projects. In the field of software development, Kanban as a process management method has gained momentum recently, mostly due to its linkages to Lean thinking. However, only a few empirical studies investigate the impacts of Kanban on projects in that particular area.

The aim of this doctoral thesis is to improve the understanding of how Kanban impacts on software projects. The research is carried out in the area of Lean thinking, which contains a variety of concepts including Kanban.

This article-type thesis conducts a set of case studies expanded with the research strategy of quasi-controlled experiment. The data-gathering techniques of interviews, questionnaires, and different types of observations are used to study the case projects, and thereby to understand the impacts of Kanban on software development projects. The research papers of the thesis are refereed, international journal and conference publications.

The results highlight new findings regarding the application of Kanban in the software context. The key findings of the thesis suggest that Kanban is applicable to software development. Despite its several benefits reported in this thesis, the empirical evidence implies that Kanban is not all-encompassing but requires additional practices to keep development projects performing appropriately. Implications for research are given, as well. In addition to these findings, the thesis contributes in the area of plan-driven software development by suggesting implications both for research and practitioners.

As a conclusion, Kanban can benefit software development projects but additional practices would increase its potential for the projects.

Availability of the dissertation

An electronic version of the doctoral dissertation is available on the e-thesis site at

Printed copies are available on request from Marko Ikonen:  (09) 191 51303 or marko.ikonen(at)

09.12.2011 - 15:07 Pirjo Moen
09.12.2011 - 14:10 Pirjo Moen