Friday, April 17, 2009

A Roadmap to Lean: Transform the Information System

In order for an organization to transform from its current state of operation to one of a Lean Enterprise Organization, a two phase approach – Planning and Implementation - can be utilized. The third step in the Implementation phase is to transform the information system within the organization. In this step, we want to:

  • Define What Implications the Lean Objectives Have on the Information Systems
  • Document As/Is – To/Be Information Flows
  • Identify Visual Methods that can be Used in Lieu of the Information System
  • Determine Which Systems Need to Change to Support Non-Visual Requirements
  • Create a Plan for Making the Changes Necessary to the Information System
  • Monitor Cut-over and Provide Support

Sometimes, when an organization is implementing changes to their information system, such as implementing an ERP system, Lean principles can be applied. Sometimes, when implementing Lean, limitations are reached since the information system needs to be changed. Either way, addressing the needs of the information system early in the process will reduce the roadblocks that arise during the effort. With the main premise behind Lean being to eliminate waste and support value added activities, the information system needs to be revised so that it is not causing wasteful activities in and of itself. When evaluating the information that is being collected within the system, it is important to ask “How am I actually going to use this information and what value does it provide?” If good answers do not come of this evaluation, it is likely that there is no need to have it in the system so revisions should be made to eliminate it. In this step of transforming the information system, key deliverables are:

  • Definition of “Must-Have” vs. “Nice-to-Have” Information
  • A Plan of Action to Eliminate/Replace Non-Essential Information
  • Written Procedures and User Training Documentation
  • Training of Users for Visual and Non-visual Techniques
  • Specification, Coding and Testing of Software Changes
  • Tracking of Open Issues for both System and Procedural Issues
  • Updated Performance Measurements

There are some who think that if Lean is implemented, there is no need for an information system to be used, however, most experts who understand the whole business process will agree that the two go together to support the whole business and must be integrated in order for the organization to be successful in its Lean efforts. However, this step of transforming the information system will often times include the need to change how one thinks of the business process requirements altogether, but then that is the whole purpose behind the effort of Going Lean. The next stop in this roadmap is Integrating the Supply Chain.

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