En ces temps de réductions budgétaires, nombreux sont ceux qui s’intéressent au Lean Management comme une simple solution de réduction des coûts. Pourtant le Lean Management est bien plus que ça : l’objectif premier est de supprimer toute forme de gaspillage en se focalisant sur la valeur apportée aux clients. La réduction des coûts n’est qu’une conséquence du processus d’amélioration, et pas un objectif.
Cet article de Joe McKendrick, consultant et conférencier spécialisé sur les tendances IT, traite de cette problématique tout en identifiant les méthodes Agile, les SOA, et le CLoud Computing comme les fers de lance du Lean IT.
Morceaux choisis :
Toyota’s track record over the decades — along with many other companies — demonstrate that lean manufacturing is very effective at improving quality overall while wringing inefficiencies out of supply chains and operations.
In fact, cost-cutting itself, the prime mission of every C-level executive these days, essentially becomes a secondary consideration of the lean approach. As organizations adopt lean methodologies and practices, streamlined costs become a natural byproduct of the process.
Is the lean philosophy something IT organizations should consider as well? I recently had a chat with Steve Bell, author of Lean Enterprise Systems: Using IT for Continuous Improvement, and co-author, with Mike Orzen, of an upcoming work on the topic, Lean IT – Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation, to get his take on “Lean IT,” which emphasizes doing things faster and better to drive out inefficiencies.
Right now, Steve says, our system for managing enterprise IT is broken. Millions of dollars are wasted every year on technologies and projects that either end up not being used, or render business processes more complicated than they were before.
Why can’t the same lessons learned from the manufacturing sector be applied to enterprise IT management across all industries?
SOA, Agile development, and cloud already are part of the lean IT equation
SOA is especially suited as a vehicle for lean IT because of its modular approach to software development and deployment. “The same as interchangeable parts and order configurations and product design for reusability of components was an important factor in the ’50s and ’60s for manufacturing transformaton,” Steve says. “Component architectures and software has been important for years, and service oriented architecture is giving more agility to reusing elements of business logic.”
The drive to service oriented architecture is also part of the same drive to cloud, Steve says. “IT organizations are going to have to move all of their shared repeatable services into a utility model. Whether they host it internally or host it externally doesn’t matter.” He adds that some organizations moving into internally hosted cloud models are seeing productivity gains. By applying the lean philosophy to drive inefficiencies out of repeatable processes, IT organizations can focus on process improvement and leadership in the non-repeatable aspects of their operations, which involve development, creativity, and discovery.
The No. 1 takeaway from implementing lean methodologies into IT and software management is you don’t cut costs simply because costs need to be cut, Steve adds. “The quickest way to lose weight is to give blood, but the patient isn’t very healthy when you’re done. You’re weakened, and you’ve lost a lot of your intellectual capital. If you simply try to attack cost, and short-term cost reduction, all you end up doing is killing the patient.”
Lean means more than simply cutting costs or streamlining, Steve says.
Lean, as successfully applied to manufacturing, means doing things “simpler, faster, better, cheaper,” he says. “Notice that the last item on the list is cheaper. If you adopt a systems perspective into every business process. You find where the waste is and you drive it out, focusing on doing things faster and with higher quality, cost will naturally be driven out of the system.”
In lean IT, the focus is on collaborative teamwork—represented by all parts of the business—to deliberatively and systematically tackle problems. Right now, IT is forced to fight fires every day, Steve points out. The focus of lean IT is to put forth “a set of principles that says you are going to slow down in order to speed up,” he explains.
Many companies are focusing on lean and Six Sigma to improve operations, but ignore the IT side of the house. “What ends up happening in a lot of companies that are implementing lean or Six Sigma is their business teams think they’ve solved their problems, and then they throw grenades over the wall to the IT department. There’s still lack of collaboration and lack of partnership, which is why a lot of business-driven system implementations are misguided.”
IT managers and professionals are generally systemic thinkers and problem solvers, he continues. “But they’re put in a position where they’re fire-fighting all day long. They dont have enough staff, they have too many projects, some IT departments have three-to-four-year-long backlogs. So they spend their days in quiet desperation and frustration, being reactive.”