What is IT Waste?

7 types of muda

What is IT Waste?

The term “waste” is given to any electronic information or processes that reduce productivity rather than enhance it. Just as in lean manufacturing, lean IT has seven common types of wastes lean businesses are always on the lookout for:

  • Transportation
  • Inventory
  • Movement
  • Waiting
  • Over-Production
  • Over Processing
  • Defective Components

Keep reading for a brief overview of each


Transportation waste is the unnecessary communication or transfer of information. For example, information that needs to be documented or recorded in two separate programs is a form of electronic waste. Integrating two systems and serving the same information from both of them is a form of waste. While regularly transferring information from one system (or spreadsheet) to another may seem like a “back-up” method, it is more organized and efficient to keep all information together as a group.


While computers may not house traditional inventory like boxes and pallets, most businesses have an unbelievable amount of excess information stored onto their servers and inside their systems. Inventory is something that is not used as soon as it is produced, examples are scheduled reports that are not always read or status emails that overcrowd inboxes. To avoid over-crowding computer systems, many lean IT experts will archive files to tape or by storing them on Cloud software or external devices. You can also reduce inventory by reducing the time between producing something and using it. The same goes for lean IT and lean manufacturing, too much inventory requires unnecessary storage.


Movement waste is caused by the extra (and unnecessary) movements taken by the employees of the company, and can potentially decrease profitability by increasing labor wages. Example of unnecessary movement is when a person needs to relay messages to another person, when files are saved all over your datacenter while loading data into a system or simply someone having to spend time searching for that email. Most movement waste issues can be caused by outdated software and poor organization, or as a result of other lean waste types, such as inventory.


When all pieces of a business are working together well, there is very little time spent waiting for system updates or finding general information. Although many businesses may not realize it, waiting waste is a prominent source of employee distress. Software updates that occur mid-shift, over-inventoried memory drives, incidents and software glitches are all common types of waiting waste that occur in the common office.


Electronic over-production can occur in a number of ways, however the two most common are premature electronic production (for example, creating a billing spreadsheet before being awarded the job) and producing more work than was requested. To reduce waste from over-production, many businesses develop standard operating procedures for each of their processes.

Over Processing

Similar to over-production waste, over processing document spreadsheets, customer information, and other electronic data can result in extra hours spent on the same task. While this can result from a lack of standard operating procedure, more often than not it is due to a lack of digital template standardization.

Defective Components

Defects in products and services are the most common types of virtual waste, and cost the company responsible substantial funds to correct. Dysfunctional software, lagging computers, and incorrect filing systems are all examples of defective I T components that create waste within the company.

Jón Grétar Guðjónsson