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Making IT Lean by Rebecca Duray, Howard Williams

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207
Chapter 9
Looking at Lean IT
Future Drivers of IT Work
In Chapter 2, we made some observations about the current landscape in
which IT practitioners work, including brief mention of trends that help shape
their environment and drive many of their priorities. These include technology
and cost drivers, as well as new service paradigms that represent responses
to these drivers and the strategic requirement to ensure Business–IT align-
ment. We also can look ahead and more clearly identify some of the trends
that are likely to shape the landscape of IT work in the future, including the
following:
1,2
Disruptive technologies with new supporting service models for, e.g.,
cloud computing, mobility, social media
Continuing transformation of IT to a Service Management paradigm,
with focus on end-to-end service definition and service portfolio man-
agement (versus project portfolio management)
Corresponding shift in IT roles and skills portfolio, e.g., less traditional
IT and more Service Management
New supporting organizational models and shared service structures
Externalized service delivery (more outsourcing to service providers)
Business Process Management and Automation with increased focus on
underlying data analytics and knowledge management
Convergence of IT applications and infrastructure with business services
(IT becomes embedded in business services)
Stronger partnerships between IT and Business, with diminished long-
term role for traditional IT roles and responsibilities
208 ◾  Making IT Lean: Applying Lean Practices to the Work of IT
This certainly suggests a changing landscape, and there is a lot of incen-
tive for IT to get in front of these trends, which suggests a strong need for
planning and design activities and proactive attention to improvements that
can help facilitate transition to a new Future State. There will be problems
in this transition, just as there are problems in the Current State, and we
know that Lean can make a contribution in addressing these problems. By
the same token, Lean also has contributions in planning and design for the
Future State, a point which we alluded to in the previous chapter. While
we have not spent much time on Lean design, there are complementary
resources that can help the reader gain an introduction to Lean design
concepts and practices.
3,4
From this we can envision a Future State where
infusion of Lean practices within IT and business processes parallels the
integration of IT within business services.
The Role of Lean
Whether we are talking about Lean problem-solving or Lean design, we
are using the same underlying notions of Lean Thinking that we have dis-
cussed throughout this book. In other words, regardless of our domain of
inquiry, Lean Thinking serves us well in helping to clarify and understand
work, especially in its focus on conceptualizing work as a value stream. This
concept alone provides a unifying framework for representing Current State
and/or visualizing Future State, regardless of the trend to which it pertains.
The bottom line is that Lean accommodates new realities while maintaining
its essential core.
Despite these trends, however, the current state for many organizations
will remain tied up in problems for the foreseeable future. There is just too
much going on in most IT environments to permit practitioners to focus
entirely on the Future State, so really, the requirement is to focus on both
the Current State (with urgency, in some cases) and the Future State (with
increased planning focus) at the same time. The value stream orientation
allows us to work on both together.
We believe that as IT practitioners come to realize the value of adopting a
Lean orientation, this could become another trend that eventually character-
izes how IT work is done on a routine basis. The ease with which it can be
integrated within any methodological framework is a strong selling point for
sure, and the degree to which it can be institutionalized (in practice, even
if not by name) makes it almost on par with adopting “common sense” or

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