More than ever technology leaders are being asked to do more with less. As budgets are reduced, and IT investments are scrutinized as never before, IT leaders are looking for ways to evolve – To provide better service in as cost effective a manner as possible.Lean

As an increasing number of CIOs are considering Lean IT as a way to reduce waste and improve customer value within their IT organizations, two pressing questions demand answers;

  1. Does lean mean less? That is to say, are we to assume that if we look for cost savings and efficiencies within our IT organizations, that service levels will go down and innovation be stifled?
  2. What specific efficiencies and reductions are best positioned to ensure the consistent delivery of superior business value?  

As best stated by Gartner:

“Focused Lean is an outcomes-based approach for delivering short-term performance improvements rather than lasting cultural change. For CIOs committed to the longer-term creation of a resilient organization and sustained performance improvement, Transformational Lean offers a proven path.” 

As with any change, the move to a “lean” approach needs to be crafted with buy-in in mind. The assumption is always that lean means less, but results have proven that this is certainly not always the truth. If initial effort is focused on short term, key business wins, not only is the myth that lean means less disproven, but future buy-in, for more transformational lean initiatives, is more of a certainty.

Take for example efficiencies that can be found in the configuration of the service desk. In a previous tenure I inherited a service desk that zealously held to the implementation of ITIL. Without a doubt a noble cause, but at the end of the day, while the artifacts, processes and procedures were all in place, client satisfaction levels had dropped to an all-time low. What was the answer? By implementing a focused lean approach we minimized the out-of-the-box set of process definitions, providing the requisite control while severely reducing the administrative burden. Instead of choking on administrative overhead the short term gain was immediate surges in client satisfaction ratings.

Long term performance improvements:

A lean approach that looks to produce long term value encompasses the whole enterprise, and looks for continuous efficiencies and sustainable reductions extending over many years.

During the same tenure referenced above, we undertook a Green IT by Infrastructure Modernization initiative.

We embarked on a strategy of environmental sustainability by rationalizing, consolidating and leveraging virtualization software, thereby allowing employees to run applications that were previously distributed across multiple hosting platforms, from an internal cloud computing environment. This long term vision increased the capacity and scalability of the Data Center by providing an internal cloud computing environment for all current and future business applications, extranet sites and IT Shared Service Organization services. The approach realized savings of 20% in energy consumption and a reduction ratio of 4 to 1 for acquisition of physical assets, and in particular, high energy consuming and heat producing servers.

The Data Centre and infrastructure, while focused on lean efficient use of resources, at the same time produced lasting environmentally beneficial results.

So back to our original question – Does lean mean less? On the contrary, a strategic focused lean approach is a proven catalyst to innovative, cost effective and forward thinking perspectives on IT.