Lean times call for Lean IT

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

CIOs find themselves in a tough spot. Budgets have been cut, but the expectations for service delivery remain high. So CIOs are going lean; applying ‘lean’ thinking to their IT strategies. Lean IT allows CIOs to focus on what’s most important: delivering value to their internal and external customers ― while lowering costs.

This pragmatic management discipline was road-tested in the manufacturing sector, where lean pioneers like Toyota and Xerox identified ways to eliminate any waste long ago. Lean principles make heavy use of simple visual techniques like KanBan cards. Such lean visualisation techniques apply just as equally to the management of IT services and the underlying technology infrastructure. In IT however, business services consist of intangible bits and packets coursing through electronic infrastructure. It’s not visibly apparent which servers and infrastructure components are supporting which services, so it becomes imperative to visualise end-to-end transactions and the infrastructure that sits under these transactions.

Navigating the Lean IT journey
So what steps can CIOs take in their drive to maximise value while minimising waste? What are the fundamental enablers of Lean IT? There are four areas to consider:

Business engagement with IT
Life doesn’t stop in an economic downturn. The business still requires new or updated IT applications and services to support their strategic initiatives. Here, portfolio management can provide insight into the investment planning process to help ensure that funds are allocated to the IT projects that best support business objectives.

Transaction visibility
To improve customer value, it is important to know what the customer is experiencing. Are your customer-facing applications giving you a reputation for first-class service and responsiveness or causing frustrated customers to seek out your competition? As almost any CIO will testify, in today’s complex data centre infrastructure it’s more difficult than ever to trace the root cause of a performance or availability degradation which may be impacting service quality.

Operational excellence
Strategies to achieve operational excellence include identifying and smoothing out bottlenecks, automating processes to reduce wait-time and errors, and maximising IT asset utilisation through technologies like virtualisation. In essence, just-in-time resourcing needs to become a key discipline within IT.

Security and compliance
When thinking lean, you can’t ignore risk and compliance. At many companies, compliance processes are highly manual and redundant; many different groups use their own spreadsheets or other fragmented toolsets, which can quickly get out of synch, leading to further risk and cost. By centralising compliance information and standardising processes and toolsets, you can reduce risk, remove redundancies, and increase agility to respond as regulations change.

There’s no time to waste: think Lean IT now

Download the the full version of this article

More information on Lean IT at British Airways at http://bit.ly/2ExLiI and on Lean IT at Fujitsu at http://bit.ly/19m55B

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