Toyota is one of the world’s most successful companies with 330,000 staff and a value of $193 Billion. Toyota leaders often say that their growth is due to the Toyota Production System which is renowned for its focus on removing any activity that doesn’t add value to the customer. Toyota’s method known as Lean Production has spread across the manufacturing industry as companies have realised that they have to adopt it or be left behind.
“All we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the time line by reducing the non-value adding wastes.” Taiichi Ohno, Toyota.
In my experience traditional Information Technology groups have a lot of waste that goes unrecognized because it’s not physical.
“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize” Shigeo Shingo, Toyota
In this series of articles I will translate the ideas of lean production from the physical world of manufacturing to the virtual world of information technology so that you can see the waste in your process and learn how to reduce it.
The cause of waste
Wasted time and effort is ultimately caused by uneven work flow and unreasonable demands. If we streamline our work and make reasonable demands then wasted time and effort will fall.
IT groups traditionally think of software development as being like building a bridge in which we need to complete each step in the process in one big batch before we move onto the next step. The problem is that software development is nothing like building a bridge and doing work in large batches in specialist groups creates a very uneven workflow which leads to a lot of wasted time and effort and a high rate of failure.
Types of waste
Uneven workflow and unreasonable demands cause several different types of waste. In the language of IT these wastes are:
- Over production of system features,
- Over engineering (over processing),
- Excess work in progress (inventory),
- Transaction costs (Transport),
- Effort (Motion),
- Delays (Waiting) and
- Rework to fix defects.
In the next post I will examine how over production causes waste in IT.