Lean is all about reducing Waste (Muda). Essentially, lean is centered on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System. Lean IT is the extension of lean manufacturing, and include services principles to the development and management of information technology (IT) products and services. Its central concern, applied in the context of IT, is the elimination of waste, where waste is work that adds no value to a product or service.
Although lean principles are generally well established and have broad applicability, their extension from manufacturing to IT is only just emerging. Indeed, Lean IT poses significant challenges for practitioners while raising the promise of no less significant benefits. And whereas Lean IT initiatives can be limited in scope and deliver results quickly, implementing Lean IT is a continuing and long-term process that may take years before lean principles become intrinsic to an organization’s culture
Lean IT promises to identify and eradicate waste that otherwise contributes to poor customer service, lost business, higher than necessary business costs, and lost employee productivity. To these ends, Lean IT targets eight elements within IT operations that add no value to the finished product or service or to the parent organization.
LeanIT brings in words like:
Kaizen: An improvement philosophy in which continuous incremental improvement occurs over a sustained period of time, creating more value and less waste, resulting in increased speed, lower costs and improved quality. When applied to a business enterprise, it refers to ongoing improvement involving the entire workforce including senior leadership, middle management and frontline workers. Kaizen is also a philosophy that assumes that our way of life (working, social or personal) deserves to be constantly improved.
Value Stream: The specific activities required to design, order, and provide a specific product or service from the point of product (or service) concept, through launch, ordering raw materials, production and placing the product (or service) in the hands of the customer. From a shareholder’s perspective the Value Stream could also include the steps and time required until the receipt of revenue.
Value Stream Mapping: A technique used to analyze the flow of materials and information currently required to bring a product or service to a consumer. A visual representation of all of the process steps (both value-add and non-value-add) required to transform a customer requirement into a delivered good or service. A VSM shows the connection between information flow and product flow, as well as the major process blocks and barriers to flow. VSMs are used to document current state conditions as well as design a future state. One of the key objectives of Value Stream Mapping is to identify non-value adding activities for elimination. Value Stream Maps, along with the Value Stream Implementation Plan are strategic tools used to help identify, prioritize and communicate continuous improvement activities.
As Mike Orzen wrote The Lean IT Field Guide – A Roadmap for Your Transformation. And he said “over the past twenty-four years, I have tried many approaches and witnessed what works and what doesn’t. Here’s the bottom line: each organization has its own culture, history, and work environment, so one size does not fit all. There is no standard deployment sequence or collection of work systems that apply universally. That said; there are some fundamental concepts applicable to all organizations.
1) Start by establishing a clear purpose throughout the organization. This is a prerequisite for success.
2) Acknowledge that the bedrock of lean is learning and that problem solving capability is the skill to cultivate if you are serious about transformation.
3) Strive to balance the two pillars of lean: continuous improvement and respect for people. Don’t make the common mistake of falling in love with tools of continuous improvement and ignoring respect for people.
4) Create a culture of accountability by building work systems that position your people to succeed, to learn, and to grow. This is true respect for people and promotes high levels of teamwork, engagement, accountability, and ultimately performance.
5) Work systems must be designed, built, maintained, and improved by the people doing the actual work. Outside support is fine, but the frontline people must do the work.