Operating “lean” has long been a key strategy for manufacturing firms, helping them to minimize waste and optimize resource consumption, and as a result, decrease overhead costs. But, more and more companies in other industries are coming to realize that these types of methodologies can be applied to other, non-production activities to achieve similar goals.
And, one of the processes that can benefit most from a lean strategy is IT service management (ITSM). The primary goal of lean ITSM techniques is to reduce the effort devoted to non-value-added tasks, or to eliminate those routine procedures that don’t have a direct or significant impact on the delivery of support to technology end users.
In their report titled “Lean Information Technology Service Management: Bottom Up Process Improvement That Addresses the Bottom Line” (PDF), the National Contract Management Association states that, in order to optimize IT service efficiency, organizations must “focus on reducing cost and eliminating waste and variance”.
Additionally, leading IT consultancy Infosys Technologies touts the value of lean ITSM principles, urging IT organizations to start “working efficiently by eliminating any wasteful activities and operating at near perfection levels”.
What are some of the specific advantages lean ITSM can deliver?
- Increased support reliability through the implementation of proven, repeatable processes and tasks
- Reduced costs through better allocation and utilization of support staff and budget funds
- Improved support efficiency and accelerated issue handing and resolution through the elimination of wasteful or non-value-added tasks
- Creation of a culture of ongoing improvement, where key activities are continuously evaluated and refined
Lean ITSM principles are particularly important during tough economic times. When planned and implemented properly, these techniques can empower IT organizations to continue to provide superior service, even as their financial and/or human resources become more and more limited.
But, according to Forrester analyst Alexandra Peters, it’s crucial to remember that lean ITSM is not just about chipping away at IT costs randomly. Lean ITSM is about eliminating waste, so more focus can be placed on those activities that truly help end users, impact the business, and grow the bottom line.