What does “Lean IT” mean? Most of those who use this term think of it as the application of Lean principles to the operations of IT companies or departments. To others, including myself, it is primarily about the effective use of IT in support of Lean manufacturing, which is a completely different but very real problems.
The IT departments of manufacturing companies are rarely any help in implementing Lean. The plants’ information systems are full of data about the business and the technology of the plant that is only accessible through the IT department, but its members are busy implementing system upgrades and have no clue what uses this data could be put to.
On the other side are Lean implementers whose computer skills are limited to Excel and PowerPoint, and who underestimate the potential of 21st century IT based on comments made by Ohno in the 1960s.
I looked in vain for any discussion of these issues in the presentations at this summit, although plenty of solutions exist. There could have been, for example, discussions of how data warehousing technology to consolidate data from multiple legacy system into a single, comprehensive source of clean data about product and process specs, the status and history of demand and production, quality, maintenance, inventory, and the supply chain, along with plans for the future.Then it would have been fascinating to hear how tools like the ones Nate Silver applied to US presidential politics could be applied to identifying patterns in this data could be used to allocate products among families and size production lines for each family…
We could also have heard about Lean implementers breaking out of the Excel/PowerPoint box, learning how to design and query databases, and how to judiciously apply data mining tools.
This is about making IT effective, and it should be job one. Then we can worry about applying Lean internally to IT department to make them more efficient.
See on www.lean-it-summit.com