By Vesa H Autio
Lean manufacturing was made famous by Toyota. It was able to reduce different kinds of waste and improve quality, and so also productivity considerably. Lean IT is a popular topic nowadays. IT tries to apply Toyota’s lean methods and thinking in IT projects in order to execute lean projects. This is very useful.
However, before Toyota started to use Lean and to gain advantages from it some other decisions had been made. Toyota had decided to make cars. Of such size and quality that people want to buy. It had decide a certain set of different models. It had decided to use certain materials and technologies. If Toyota had made wrong decisions here then lean methods would not be that valuable. Then it would produce products that no-one buys. Very efficiently but in vain.
Similar decisions should be made related to corporate IT systems. Corporations need to ensure that they develop IT systems that are needed and used. Three things are critical in this. The corporate strategy tells what the company wants to be. The IT strategy tells what kind of IT solutions are required for that. IT project portfolio management defines an optimal set of projects according to these strategies. As a result the corporation has decided whether it will make Toyotas, Ferraris, trains, boats or planes.
The corporation starts from the Globe Scope – all the possibilities in the World – and aims to find the Lean Scope. The Lean Scope has no waste but just the necessary, high value content. When that is found it is documented and communicated so that everybody knows that ‘we make Toyotas here’. After that most of the IT project proposals that contain Ferraris, trains or planes are rejected before they are presented. The rest of such proposals are rejected by portfolio management. Or could you imagine that someone in a Toyota production line could suddenly start making a train? Or even a demo train? Furthermore, all projects and project managers know their common goal as well as the common limitations, and can avoid scope battles.
Lean IT projects don’t mean just that project’s execution is lean, but first of all it means identifying the lean scope.
Vesa H Autio is a solution manager in Consolis, and a senior advisor for a project management consultant company Arito-tsm offering JaVePro training and research services. He has over ten years of experience in managing IT, RD and business development projects. You can read more from Vesa on his blog. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
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