It is rare to get a document written about Amazon.com’s processes. McKinsey has a post on an interview with Mark Onetto. Who is Mark?
The most surprising part was what Marc says is the next frontier lean-management principles applied to software creation.
Perhaps the biggest challenge I see is the application of lean-management principles to software creation, which is highly complex, with numerous opportunities for defects. Software engineers have not yet been able to stop the line and detect defects in real time during development. The only real testing happens once the software is completed, with the customer as a beta tester. To me, this is unacceptable; we would never do that with a washing machine. We would not ask customers to tell us when the washer leaks or what’s wrong with it once it has arrived at their homes. I’ve tried to address the problem, and some of Amazon’s computer-science engineers have looked at it, but it is still one of the biggest challenges for lean.