28 ◾ Making IT Lean: Applying Lean Practices to the Work of IT
who has a background in manufacturing consulting. The ﬁrst revelation was
that OM practitioners had very deep and extensive experience in complex
process environments (such as making cars). The second revelation was
that this process knowledge could be applied to the work of IT, although
the language and practices of OM were not commonly employed, or even
particularly evident. His eyes opened up to a whole new world, which later
set the stage for understanding the speciﬁc contributions of Lean as an OM
practice to the work of IT.
For many readers who may have had prior exposure to OM, the con-
cepts and notions in this chapter may seem straightforward and obvious, in
which case it will represent a quick review to set the stage for later chapters.
For other readers who may not have had this exposure, our hope is that
you will be able to absorb some language and tools that will not only add
insight into looking at IT work in its own right, but also provide context for
a better understanding of the role of Lean.
Processes are the fundamental unit of work in Operations Management.
A process is any activity that transforms an input into an output. Using a
variety of established textbook deﬁnitions of process,
ﬁve process types are
seen in manufacturing operations, some of which can be applied in service
operations (and, as we discussed in the previous chapter, IT is a service
operation). The ﬁve process types include:
◾ Job Shop
◾ Continuous Flow
These process types represent a spectrum of activities based on the vari-
ety and volume of the output of the process. Volume refers to the number of
items being produced, while variety signiﬁes the number of different types
of items, each type requiring different ways of processing. For example, let’s
say you produce 10,000 units of something per month (e.g., bicycles parts,
donuts, or computer components). If you produce 1000 different items (each
item requiring different process handling) in batches of 10, you have high