Lean IT and the 8 forms of waste

av | mar 4, 2020 | LEAN IT

While downtime is most often related to unavailable IT services, the eight letters of the word make a great way to remember the eight forms of waste in Lean IT. I thought we could quickly review the concepts.

What is Lean IT anyway?

Lean IT is the adaptation of Lean Manufacturing principles into Information Technology. While this is “new” in some sense, the ideas have been recognized and incorporated into IT over the past 10-20 years. Lean ideas are truly at the core of Agile methodology and DevOps principles, where all frameworks emphasize the value of feedback, smaller production batches, and continual improvement.

What is waste anyway?

Waste is anything that inhibits value. It’s that simple. Anything that gets in the way of maximizing value to customer is waste, is wasteful, and we want to reduce or eliminate it. Less waiting, smaller inventories, fewer or no errors…

The Big Idea – As waste goes down, value goes up!

Simple in theory, this proves a constant battle in practice. Yet a stubborn and ongoing focus on reducing waste will make your IT more efficient and effective, thereby increasing value to customer.

DOWNTIME – the 8 forms of waste

Lean IT identifies 8 forms of waste. Oftentimes you will see them referenced as TIMWOOD-T categories, but I find DOWNTIME a simpler acronym within IT.

D is for DEFECT

Defects in IT are mistakes, bugs, errors, incidents and rework. In order to reduce defects, Lean IT applies smarter design work, testing methodologies, root cause analysis of problems and strives for consistent standards.

O is for OVERPRODUCTION

Overproduction is when we make too much or too early. This leads to need wasteful inventory (see “I” below) which also often hides other inefficiencies. In order to reduce overproduction, Lean IT looks for a production flow that is at pace (takt) with customer demand. Here we even apply just-in-time, smaller production batches and “pull”/demand oriented systems.

W is for WAITING

Waiting is self-explanatory and few of us can tolerate it. Lean IT strives to reduce waste by focusing on steady flow, eliminating bottlenecks and again standardizing work.

N is for NON-VALUE PROCESSING

Non-value processing is when we perform excessive or unnecessary work. Sometimes called over-processing, the work involved generates little to no value. In order to reduce non-value processing, Lean IT is stringent with understanding and producing to specific requirements – no more, no less.

T is for TRANSPORT

Transport involves having to unnecessarily move our work, materials or information during production. A classic IT example is the many handoffs our work might have from supplier to provider to project team to Service Desk… Lean IT reduces transport waste by designing work flows that proceed smoothly, with well-aligned work steps and placement of necessary resources and materials.

I is for INVENTORY

Inventory involves having large levels of work in progress (WIP) – either while in production and/or waiting for delivery to customer. This is especially dangerous and invisible in IT where half-finished incident fixes or changes aren’t completed. Lean IT strives for a flow from production to customer, that which gets started gets finished, and with only the necessary levels of WIP. This is again addressed, as with overproduction (see “O” above), by production flow that is at pace with takt as well as just-in-time principles.

M is for MOTION

Motion is abnormal waste of movement (not to be confused with transport) that might increase wear, tear or risk. IT often finds the unnecessary motion of gathering from many data sources or too many “clicks”. In order to reduce motion waste, Lean IT encourages logical and ordered work areas (5S) as well as well-designed production movements.

E is for EMPLOYEE KNOWLEDGE UNUSED

Unused employee knowledge is a waste in the sense that we have an asset not using its fullest potential. Lean IT reduces this waste by encouraging understanding of employee skills/knowledge, mapping to work production, and utilizing proactive HR practices.

8 forms of waste

Back to the Big Idea

As we get to know the 8 forms of waste, we can more easily identify them and eliminate them. To this end, Lean IT utilizes a number of concepts and tools:

Lean training and certification

Learn more about the 8 forms of waste and how to eliminate them.

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