Many people think of lean as an inventory management or process improvement philosophy, but in reality, it is much more. Lean is a management strategy that puts a laser focus on waste — seeking to eliminate waste wherever it occurs. That’s why lean moved so successfully off the shop floor through the entire enterprise and why it now permeates the thinking in diverse industries such as financial institutions, hospitals and fast food outlets.
One of the most difficult parts of seeking out waste in all its forms is that waste takes so many forms that it’s often hard to identify. It’s relatively easy to recognize scrap or excess motion as waste, but it’s a lot harder to recognize the waste inherent in missed opportunities. CIOs have been looking for ways to make IT lean for at least a decade, and enforcing the use of the Cloud ERP solution is one big way to make IT lean. Eliminating one-off spreadsheets and duplicate data entry is an obvious way to reduce wasted resources and streamline business processes, but there’s a simple and more obvious way to eliminate an even sneakier form of waste. Move to the cloud.
Moving Towards Lean IT with Cloud Computing
Eliminating activities that don’t add value in the eyes of the customers is a core principle. Cloud computing eliminates the need to spend time on repetitive tasks that add no value to the user, the customer of IT. Activities such as backups, database tuning, managing print queues and other routine but essential repetitive tasks can be easily outsourced, freeing up IT for more strategic activities.
By eliminating the time and attention the IT team spends on these tasks, the company now has more access to an important resource — the combined knowledge and experience of the IT team freed to focus on streamlining business processes or planning the company’s technology strategy. While not a “waste” in the conventional understanding of the concept, spending resources on less valuable tasks at the expense of more strategic initiatives is definitely a form of waste.
- Eliminating non-value added steps from order entry or shipping processes reduces the overall order cycle time and improves customer satisfaction.
- Finding ways to increase visibility and communication across the supply chain reduces costs and lead times.
- Improving processes in finance can reduce closing time, days sales outstanding, and improve compliance without increasing risk.
All of these possibilities reduce costs, but they all require a cross-functional viewpoint combined with a knowledge of system capabilities and business process modeling tools, exactly the skills and expertise that IT brings to the table. Using the cloud to free up these valuable resources for more productive users is the ultimate example of lean IT.