Why the buzz around Lean IT?

IT industry has tried and tested all the standards/ frameworks but somehow has found it difficult to live up to the expectations of the business. The need of the hour is to be dynamic while IT is stuck in firefighting and then there is the continuous pressure of being low cost and innovative at the same time.

According to Gartner 2016 CIO report

“CIO expects digital revenues to grow from 16% to 37% similarly public sector predicts a rise from 42% to 77% in digital processes”

“22% of the CIOs Name the shortage of skills and resources as their main barrier to achieving their objective”

The above 2 predictions in a nutshell specifies both the expectation from the industry and the current state of CIO organization.

But can lean be the savior? Hard to tell but yes it can become the change agent everyone craves for in an organization. While Lean would not provide the digitized solution but certainly enable the bandwidth and hence motivation to do it. Lean is not a framework or standard but a set of tools, agnostic to the domain, technology or any other boundaries. On the Other hand ITSM’s existence is challenged with new ideas like DevOps, Bimodal IT are challenging its existence. The combination of the ITSM practices and the more customer oriented Lean is what could change the game for a CIO who more often than not is blamed for IT’s performance but is expected to deliver the transformation program.

The Lean Principles

In lean operations, everything revolves around orientating to, sensing and responding to the customer, and what he or she really wants to do. Everything is organized as a low-waste, on-demand flow of value to the customer.

The Lean principles can be summarized as the following:

  • Specifies Value – Realize what the costumer really wants and is willing to pay for.
  • Identify all the steps in the Value Stream – Map all the activities into paper, and identify wastes.
  • Introduce continuous flow – Eliminate non-value-adding activities and idle times between them as much as possible.
  • Allow customers to pull value from the upstream activity – Produce what the costumers want allowing them to pull the products and the rate at which the products should be delivered.
  • Pursue perfection – All the activities and processes should be perfect.

The Lean IT Case Study

Sense and Respond

A multinational company, providing IT services to more than four hundred clients in the areas of financial services, telecommunications, utilities and government markets. They were facing some problems, from which the following were the most relevant:

  • Some clients were not satisfied and were looking for another service supplier.
  • There was the constant need to acquire new clients to replace the ones that were leaving.
  • The Call Center Service provided to their clients was performing at a very low level.

The Solution Approach:

  • Phase 1 – Learning to Sense which suggest that we view the organization from a customer perspective and evaluate value chain measurement horizontally and vertically to understand front-line roles and responsibilities
  • Phase 2 – Learning to respond which involved Re-educating management and they introduced the Pull theory of management and Replaced Make and Sell mass production theories with Sense and Respond theories that incorporate Systems Thinking and Lean Production
  • Phase 3 – Leading Change -Utilize transformation leadership theories and employ cognitive behavior methodology. The company operated with a leadership and coaching framework with accreditations awarded to staff manager.
  • Phase 4 – Mobilizing – Providing detailed change program to transform the corporate infrastructure and designed the domestic and international plans for mobilization.

This methodology brought very positive results to the company’s Service:

  • First-contact fix increased by 64%
  • End-to-end service cycle reduced by 60% and service costs decreased by 30%
  • Customer satisfaction increased by 28% and Employee satisfaction by 40%


The additional bandwidth and the outcome of the exercise ensured that the company didn’t end the Lean journey at service desk but continued on it. Lean does not deliver the digitization solution but yes it does allow you to get that bandwidth in terms of resources, and cycle time to innovate and sustain at the same time and with approaches like Kaizen it would allow the radical thinking helping an organization in all the ways possible.

The lean way.. To be Continued..

About the Author
Rahul Gupta, Senior Business consultant, Process Consulting Practice

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