A Catalog of Ways to Achieve Lean IT

The full version of this article was co-developed with CA communications

Applying ‘Lean’ principles allow IT to identify and eradicate anything that is wasteful within IT management. A Service Catalog can be an indispensible component of Lean IT, helping drive down costs and ensure organisations are better positioned to lead when the economy recovers.

Lean manufacturing is relevant to IT operationsThe principles that originated from manufacturing have a place in the management of IT services and the underlying technology infrastructure. To understand why, it’s necessary to look at the role of IT: to develop, support and enhance business services that deliver value to the organisation and its customers. Similar to manufacturing goods, the development of business services involves managing demand, prioritising activities, marshalling finite resources and controlling defects.

Across this business service production line, there are multiple areas within IT operations that add no value to the finished product or service. These elements of waste range from time spent managing defects (through, for example, fixing problems caused by unauthorised changes), to over-provisioning service capacity, to time-intensive manual procedures that could easily be automated.

Applying lean techniques to IT operationsThe idea of using lean techniques to reduce waste in the manufacture of business services has been explored by many IT organisations. However, its usage has typically been restricted to application development, which shares many of the factory production style techniques. IT operations can also be managed from a Lean perspective. Fujitsu Services, for example, has invested heavily in creating industrialised IT infrastructures and services; making them more efficient, more reliable, quicker to implement and easier to change. as documenten in “Masters of Lean IT
Great opportunities to gain the benefits of lean also exist when organisations optimise those aspects of IT that work closely with the business. The notion of demand management in IT is in many ways similar to pull processing in lean manufacturing.
The role of the Service Catalog in Lean ITOperational and Tactical demand management― often referred to as ‘keeping the lights on’―lends itself particularly well to lean thinking, since it typically consumes up to70% of the IT budget. A service catalog provides IT operations with a process to offer and deliver a broad range of services more efficiently and effectively. Here, IT utilises Service ‘Catalogs’ to document and describe all the services it provides, together with agreed-upon service levels and cost. Users submit requests to the Service Catalog via a web browser, and since these solutions incorporate automated workflows, each request is routed through its required approval cycle.

Today’s IT organisations no longer focus on managing technology, but rather run and optimise a continuous business service production line. And like every production line, waste can surface everywhere. A Service Catalog reduces waste and costs by streamlining and automating request and delivery processes. Those that are successful will not only drive down costs, but also be better positioned to lead business and economic improvement.

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