What is Lean IT?

Wikipedia defines Lean IT as “The extension of lean manufacturing and lean services principles to the development and management of information technology (IT) products and services. Its central concern, applied in the context of IT, is the elimination of waste, where waste is work that adds no value to a product or service.

My own definition is “Delivery of information technology products and services, solely driven by the value for the target business and at the same time continuous improvement of the processes behind

Key elements are

  • Focus on customer satisfaction
  • Focus on reducing waste
  • Quality built into the product
  • Continuous improvement
  • Flexible staffing
  • Cross-functional, multidisciplinary work groups
  • Streamlining of application development and maintenance
  • Advanced Service Catalog Management
  • Advanced Application Performance Monitoring
  • IT Services ==feed==> Business Services ==feed==> Business Value
  • Lean concepts of Value Streams, Value Stream Mappings and Flows

Key challenges are

  • Few Best Practices exist today
  • IT streams chains are difficult to visualize
  • Lack of integration within “silo” based IT departments
  • Lack of integration between IT, business and suppliers


The Lean Enterprise Institute describes the core idea behind Lean as “to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources“. The LEI defines the following 5 steps for implementing Lean:

  1. Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
  2. Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
  3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
  4. As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
  5. As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.

A good introduction to Lean is this video: https://www.leaneyetea.com/paul-akers-lean-is-simple/

A good introduction to Lean IT is this presentation: https://www.leaneyetea.com/mike-orzen-lean-it-from-theory-to-practice/


Lean history timeline by the LEI

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