The Challenges of Lean IT
Three challenges you'll face when doing lean
Businesses in all industries experience IT challenges, though some issues may be more obviously linked to IT issues than others. Some of the most common reasons businesses contract IT services are to fix common office IT issues such as virus protection, maintaining network speed, and program installation. However, more serious issues can crop up as a result of poorly organized data, including information loss, disconnects in overall workflow, and low employee morale. Businesses experiencing profitability issues as a result of IT waste, or are simply interested in growth and development, may contract an IT expert to incorporate lean IT techniques into their business model. Due to the intangible nature of information technology, accomplishing a lean IT process for a business is much easier said than done. Let’s take a look at the challenges businesses face when implementing lean processes, and how to overcome them.
Challenge 1: Tracking the Untraceable
As we mentioned earlier, information technology is intangible. Because IT is intended to facilitate business flow rather than create revenue, it is extremely hard for businesses and their IT specialists to determine what kind of impact their services are having on the client’s production system, and what kind of ROI they are getting on the service itself. While the direct financial effects of lean IT implementation may not be directly traceable, some businesses use the fluctuations between project turnover, employee satisfaction, and overall revenue as a guideline for what kind of value their new lean IT processes are having.
Challenge 2: The Fast Moving Tech Atmosphere
It’s no secret that the world of technology is being revolutionized faster than many of us can track. This heightened pace of software development and digital innovation makes it extremely difficult for businesses to standardize a lean IT process that stands the test of time. Because of this, companies that take lean approaches to their IT systems attempt to forecast the electronic needs of the company, and select versatile programs that will allow enough room for flexibility and minor procedural adjustments in the future.
Challenge 3: Finding a “One-Size-Fits-All” Solution
Each department within a business must work seamlessly with one another to stay efficient. One of the most common IT challenges businesses have is finding software and work flow processes that are able to be standardized in each department. To reduce waste and increase productivity, many businesses attempt to find Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that allows them to coordinate all functions (including accounting, purchasing, customer relations, and more) in a single system. Often, implementing lean IT processes into a business requires team collaboration from the managers of each division to determine what the needs are in each department. Lately, technologies such as Service Orientated Architecture (SOA), micro services and Software as as Service (Cloud technology) have allowed businesses to combine existing and new technologies to achieve that holistic approach to IT.
Reducing Electronic Inventory Waste
Lean management originated from production and manufacturing roots, where inventory management is a large liability and risk. As lean concepts continue to be applied to IT services, it is obvious that excess amounts of inventory are also causing waste. Over-packed inboxes, unused shared drives, undocumented information, and unnecessary programs are all examples of electronic inventory waste that must be reorganized or eliminated to increase efficiency. One of the primary challenges businesses have when incorporating lean into their business plan or work flows is deciding which inventory is important enough to keep on hand. Again, managers of each department should come together to discuss which information is required on a daily basis, and develop a standard operating procedure for old and new information.