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Lean Horizons Consulting

Lean Principles in Information Technology

Jorge BarronLean Principles have been applied over the years in many different sectors delivering substantial results. Today there are many success stories almost in every business activity, however throughout my years of experience implementing Lean in different countries, mostly in the US, Lean has not yet been widely utilized in the IT world. Enterprises that have adopted “lean” are slowly and limited in their incorporation of Lean principles to the IT/business software applications.

One of the biggest challenges faced by IT has been to convey the business value of IT in terms of alignment with overall business strategy and defining the value provided to business processes as part of the software development and implementation process.

Lean can be effectively applied to IS/IT following the same principles applied in other business areas. When analyzing an end to end software development life cycle, Value added in software development and applications represents only 1% to 5% of total Lead Time in respect of value added processing/touch time.

Here are some examples of MUDAS in the IT environment:

  • Transportation: unnecessary information transfers, creating excessive hand offs among different stakeholders.
  • Over Processing: using different platforms and manually processing reports.
  • Waiting Delays: Decisions are made almost constantly in every software development project, this is one of the biggest Mudas in IT, and if developers are not available it will cause a big delay impacting total development lead time.
  • Over Production: Over generation and creation of non-value added reports not aligned to the business needs.
  • Motion: Multiple uses of screens and navigations, including back and forth from manual to electronic reports.
  • Inventory: Unnecessary data storage using valuable memory/assets with no value added information.
  • Defects: excessive reprocessing and rework loops. Too much development time spent is rework.

The following Lean principles are key to keep in mind in software development:

  • Design MUDA free applications
  • Build in Quality at the source
  • Deliver fast and efficient value added information
  • Optimize the whole. Lean principles deliver on their potential when backed by effective leadership and changes in behavior.

I would be interested to know your thoughts about the current challenges you are facing with IT and how you are responding to this issue.

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