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Whitepaper Lean and Six Sigma in IT


Your business technologists. Powering progress
Applying Process Improvement
Best Practices in IT Organizations
2Lean & Six Sigma in IT
Lean and Six Sigma in IT
Applying Process Improvement
Best Practices in IT Organizations
Table of contents
Getting IT fit for purpose 5
9 Barriers to the Lean IT Organization 6
Six Sigma in IT Service Desk operations 7
Lean IT Project Management 8
Agile meets DevOps 9
The Atos ITIL ProcessHouse 10
The Lean IT Pyramid 12
Lean IT Partnering 13
Why Atos Consulting? 14
Our team 15
3 Lean Six Sigma in IT
Lean and Six Sigma in IT
A valuable combination
Industry has always had a keen eye on
process optimization. By improving production
processes – making them more cost effective,
raising the quality level of the output, making
them faster, making them more flexible – a
competitive advantage is created that allows
the organization to be more successful in the
The methods and tools that are applied in
process optimization have varied over the
years. The two approaches that are in the
picture nowadays stem from the Toyota
Production System and Motorola respectively:
Lean and Six Sigma.
An IT organization differs in many respects from
a product manufacturer, however there are
also quite a few similarities. KPIs such as costs,
response time, flexibility and innovation are all
as important to an IT organization as they are
to an industrial organization. In our experience,
providing a tailored approach of Lean and Six
Sigma to IT organizations is a very powerful
instrument to ensure that they are fit for a
demanding future. In this brochure we will shed
light on this from various angles.
Our Vision: The IT
organization of the future
At its core, Lean aims to reduce waste, and does
so in an evolutionary way, involving all people
that play a role in the business process at hand.
The focus is predominantly on waiting times,
error corrections, hand-over moments and
rework . By identifying activities that truly add
value to the customer of the IT organization
(or the customer behind the customer of the
IT organization), a cost-effective client-oriented
process can be designed and implemented,
with a constant flow.
Six Sigma is aimed at process control. It helps in
stabilizing processes within the IT organization,
and further improving these stabilized
processes. The Six-Sigma approach is well-
documented and well-known, aiming to identify
the factors that have the biggest impact on the
quality parameters of the process. If we know
these factors, we can use these to improve
the process, ensuring improvements are of a
long-lasting nature. For this, statistical tools are
frequently used in Six Sigma.
The methods Lean and Six Sigma are often
combined into a single method “Lean Six
Sigma”, which combines the “human-centered,
interactive” Lean approach and the “data-
based, statistical” Six Sigma approach. We have
achieved great results when using these two
methods in IT organizations..
The IT Ecosystem and
Lean Six Sigma
Lean Six Sigma identifies customer value and
it helps in identifying and removing non-added
value activities. This results in stable, result-
oriented and cost-effective processes.
As industry processes cover the whole
supply chain, IT processes cover the whole
IT Ecosystem: the processes only run as well
as the weakest link, and involving business
partners in process improvement is a key
element of our approach. This approach creates
concrete improvement activities, not only
on the drawing board, but in real life. Some
concrete characteristics of the approach are:
“ A lucid combination of common sense and
statistical evidence in support of the decision
making process.
“ Deep insight in the factors that influence
process performance.
“ Identifying root causes for errors and delays,
and coping with these.
“ Improve the predictability of the performance.
“ Consolidation of changes implemented, and
ensuring that the IT organization continues
improving itself.
4Lean Six Sigma in IT 4Lean Six Sigma in IT
5 Lean Six Sigma in IT
Measuring the
Performance Impact
At Atos we are obsessed by performance. Our
goal is to help organizations improve the rate
at which they successfully perform. This is
performance improvement, as we see it. And in
our view, the most fundamental requirement for
performance improvement is a measurement
Performance Analytics
We have created a flexible performance
capability to help our clients realize the
performance opportunity for IT. We have
codified our Lean IT knowledge into
performance trees of drivers and measures,
incorporating those into an analytics
platform that includes data visualization and
benchmarking, and embedded in our IT
strategy consulting approach.
Doing What We Say
The practical application of this Lean Six
Sigma thinking has been proven on not just
our recent client engagements (for example
addressing issues on provision of ICT services in
Healthcare, or improving Service Management
in Financial Services) but also on our internal
managed services. We “practice what we
preach” or “do what we say”. We are constantly
challenged by our customers on demonstrating
better value for money and more innovation:
we depend on our skills in applying Lean
Six Sigma and being able to measure the IT
performance benefit to their businesses in how
we successfully respond.
Rethinking IT
The big challenge for Operational IT is to deliver
against a backdrop of continually declining IT
budgets. Traditional calls to ‘work smarter’ or
‘run faster’ are not enough. We need to rethink
how IT is organized and operates. Lean and Six
Sigma can help to support this step-change:
Minimum specification
We need to be tighter on specifying value.
We need to replace the practice of specifying
everything we might want, with only what we
absolutely need to deliver business benefit. By
ruthless focus on business value we simplify
the solution, save costs, reduce time to delivery,
bank the benefit, and move to the next
challenge. “Just enough” delivered perfectly is
better than unreliable delivery of features that
are not really needed.
Right to left planning
IT has traditionally delivered against ‘left to right’
plans that treat time as a variable commodity. In
Lean IT the optimum approach is to agree on a
delivery date that most project participants feel
is ‘unachievable’ and then by design prune the
project until it fits into the time box, eliminating
waste to deliver the existing scope in an
expected timeframe.
Transition state project planning
Analogous to the principle of continual
improvement (Kaizen), this a powerful
mechanism for driving pace, aligning
stakeholders, and delivering significant, tangible
benefits. It enables focus on relevant activities,
and avoids worrying about future aspects of
transformation that will be addressed in due
Silent service
Ongoing IT service failures can dominate
IT attention, often at the expense of project
delivery. One solution is to rigidly partition the
run and change elements of the IT function. A
better solution is to apply Lean and Six Sigma
thinking to avoid IT service issues altogether.
The aim for IT functions should be to aspire
to ‘silent service’, where operations are largely
invisible to the end user, and reliable service is
simply taken for granted.
The great IT irony
Against the backdrop of changing technology
provision, and the multiplying demands
for technology solutions from across
the organization that are an inevitable
consequence, the great irony is that the IT
department’s ability to deliver has actually been
Widespread austerity measures have driven
successive years of zero-based or reducing IT
budgets, at a time when non-discretionary IT
spend continues to rise.
So the element of IT spend that can be applied
to new demand has significantly reduced,
leading to a ‘keep the lights on’ mind-set just
when radical rethinking is required.
Long investment in legacy technologies, and
a culture of well-intentioned expediency. This
has resulted in core business platforms that are
complex, poorly understood, costly to maintain,
hard to test, and ill-suited to respond to change.
Outsourcing areas of IT as a way of reducing
costs, improving service levels, gaining
access to skills, and providing discipline
and rigour has enshrined the status quo in a
multi-year contractual framework. Rigid
outsourcing contracts make it more
difficult for technology to play new and
dynamic roles in rapidly evolving business
Limited access to human skills that can
generate technology enabled solutions.
There is now an imbalance between the
volume of challenges requiring a technology
response, and the number of technologists
who can support that response.
Collectively, these factors have led to a crisis
of confidence in the IT function.
Getting IT fit for purpose
Using Lean and Six Sigma to improve
Operational IT
5 Lean Six Sigma in IT
6Lean Six Sigma in IT
Drag anchors are
It is no surprise that the power of flexibility
and innovation has disappeared from such an
organization. If people have some time left, they
will use it to update their mailbox. They will get
rid of 20 e-mails in their inbox, by sending out
40 e-mails that will end up in somebody else’s
The organization is full of drag anchors, cases
and files that never stop and that keep asking
for attention. No wonder that a fresh question
from the client that requires some time, thinking
and innovation, is answered with “excuse me, I
really don’t have time for that”.
How to bring the barriers
Derived from the Lean methodology, the
following steps have proven to be extremely
“ Make the Barriers explicit, apply “visual
“ Decide on the Ambition.
“ Do a one-time “spring-cleaning” activity:
get rid of old projects that will never come
to an end, change requests that will never
be implemented and invoices that can be
resolved by simply paying them.
“ Then start the improvement cycle the agile
way. Start a Zero-Email program. Develop
an agile way of working, create a flow
dashboard and rationalize the IT application
landscape. Above all: ensure that the end-user
is at all times visible to the whole of the IT
9 Barriers to the Lean
IT Organization
And how to bring them down
How is it possible that a small company with
five employees can launch a completely new
campaign website faster than it takes the a large
multinational IT organization to plan an initial
meeting to discuss the idea of a potential new
campaign site?
Why do large IT organizations miss the agility to
develop at the same speed?
The root cause can be found in factors that
block progress, in congestion and in barriers to
innovation. This congestion is caused by a lack
of agility in an IT organization. An organization
that is not agile will have piles of work-in-
progress in various places in the organization.
These piles of work prevent the organization
from reacting rapidly to changing conditions.
The congested
In the past, it was easy to recognize a
congested organization. Big stacks of paper
files were a clear sign of an organization out of
Nowadays it is different, as a result of the clean
desk policy that comes with flexible workspaces,
offices are as clean as empty hotel rooms.
But if you look further, you see a different
picture. The whole organization is stuffed with
work-in-progress. This work-in-progress does not
display itself in the form of piles of paperwork,
but is disguised as e-mails in overloaded
mailboxes (“your mailbox is over its 500 MB size
limit”). On shared drives you will find action lists
with actions that have been “in progress” since
the Middle Ages and some change requests
will celebrate their second anniversary shortly.
Agendas are overloaded to the point where
it becomes impossible to convert the actions
agreed into real deeds.
The project portfolio contains projects that
should have been stopped a long time ago, but
nobody dares to pull the plug. The SharePoint
sites contain thousand of documents that
“somebody” should have a look at. Gaps are not
filled in, because some approvals are not given
and not followed up.
The 9 Barriers
In many organizations we see:
1. Overloaded mailboxes
2. Aging change requests
3. Endless projects
4. No progress on fulfilling vacancies
5. Customers waiting for response
6. Endless discussions on contracts
7. Endless discussions on invoice
8. Total chaos in the knowledge
management system
9. A hidden mountain of improvement
suggestions that nobody knows
where to submit them
Figure 1: The 9 biggest piles of work preventing the IT organization to be Agile
1 3 5 7 9
2 4 6 8
7 Lean Six Sigma in IT
between the ‘Web response time’ (the time the
line agent needs to pick-up the ticket) and the
probability the ticket breached the SLA during
line treatment (see Minitab analysis in Figure
Process improvements
Based on these insights the process is improved
by assigning dedicated agents who handle web
tickets, without getting distracted by phone
calls or other activities. We expect that this will
increase the web response time and therefore
decrease the probability that this ticket will
exceed the SLA.
Five weeks after the intervention the handling
time of the tickets is measured again and a
significant decrease in handling time has been
identified. The scatterplot (Figure 4) clearly
shows this difference with blue showing before
and red showing after the intervention.
This case of a Six Sigma process improvement
at an IT Service Desk shows that this
method can be valuable in defining process
improvements in an IT environment and in
measuring the actual results.
Firstly, the 1st
line agent is able to resolve the
ticket immediately. Secondly, the ticket needs
further investigation by a 2nd
level agent and
an incident is created. In the default scenario,
the 2nd
line specialized agent is able to fix
the incident within the End-to-End SLA of 40
service hours (in case of a P4 ticket).
Currently, it turns out that 41% of the P4 tickets
that enter through a web form and require 2nd
line support (the second process), breach the
SLA agreements. See Figure 3 below.
Different views on the
Different stories for the large number of
breached tickets go around the organization.
The 1st
line agents point to the 2nd
line agents
stating the tickets are not handled fast enough.
On the other hand, the 2nd
line agents point
to the 1st
line agents stating they wait too long
before forwarding the ticket to the 2nd
line, so it
is impossible to comply with the SLA.
Data analytics with Minitab software provided
valuable insight into the facts behind the stories.
A significant statistical relation has been found
Six Sigma in IT Service Desk
Case: Optimizing a call handling process
with statistical data analysis
The IT Service Desk is often seen as a cost
center. For this reason, efforts to bring down the
operational costs are very common. Agents’
salaries account for about 90% of the total
Service Desk costs, therefore reducing those
costs seems in the first instance beneficial.
However, it is often not taken into account
that those apparent cost reductions have
undesirable side effects for the business
end-user (the actual customers of the Service
Desk). Common side effects are high costs
for the business end-user due to idle time of
employees, waste by creating workarounds
and last but not least a lot of frustration. Thus,
IT Service Desk improvements should focus on
how the service is organized.
An advantage for an Atos process improvement
specialist who faces such client challenges is
that a Service Desk is almost always supported
with a ticketing system. The data available in
those systems offers opportunities for data
analysis to find clues about ways to improve the
performance of an IT Service Desk.
In this article we will take you through a Six
Sigma case study at an IT Service Desk which
delivered cost savings of more than 250K
Euro per year. This particular IT Service Desk
based in Bangalore provides IT 24/7 first line
support to 70,000 employees in a multinational
A major part of P4 tickets
The Service Desk has SLAs for four different
priority levels of tickets: from “Critical” (P1) to
“Important” (P4). The majority of tickets are
P4 and have been entered through a web
portal. For these tickets the business end-user
is seriously hindered in doing his or her daily
work. Figure 2 provides the overall journey of
a web portal ticket. Roughly two scenarios are
7 Lean Six Sigma in IT
Chart of has-breached
41% of all tickets with incident have been breached
Deviance Table
Business duration of web respon
Response Information
Adj Dev
Adj Mean
(create incident)
line agent
picks up call
User ticket
via web
SLA Web response time = 2hr
SLA E2E: P1 = 4hr, P2 = 8hr. P3 = 24hr, P4 = 40hr
Call solved
Call solved
Figure 3: Bar-chart for SLA breach
Figure 2: The high-level ticketing process and accompanying SLAs
Figure 4: Time Series Plot of Handling Time
After intervention
Before intervention
Figure 5: Minitab analysis
8Lean Six Sigma in IT
Lean IT Project Management
Viewing your project portfolio as a car factory
An IT project manager will apply general project
management principles to structure his or her
project. However, when it comes to executing
the project this same project manager will
argue that this particular project is unique and
that it is not possible to apply industry principles
to improve project execution.
We argue that Lean principles from a (car)
factory can be applied very effectively to an
IT project portfolio. We have proven this in
An important Lean principle with direct
application to the IT project portfolio is
“Heijunka” or levelling. An efficient car assembly
line has a steady flow as it mixes the build
sequence according to work content – for
example high spec car followed by a low spec
car etcetera. In an IT project portfolio the IT
operation needs to be able to handle both
the routine tasks and the complex projects.
Heijunka principles can help the project
workflow. Of course it is never possible to get
perfect levelling (even in a car factory!) and
this is one of the main causes of waste. The
challenge is to be able to see waste. Once
identified it can be easy to address. To assist
being able to see waste, Lean practitioners
categorize seven types of waste which can be
identified in an IT project organization, see table
Other Lean measures:
“ Stop projects and programs that do not have
enough added value (any more).
“ Ensure that all projects and programs are
monitored on strategic level.
“ Ensure that you always have a complete
and transparent picture of the whole project
But above all Time = Money! All work in
progress is potentially waste. All factors that
hinder a project from progressing should
be eliminated. Projects should not only be
initiated on the basis of a business case, the IT
organization must also be able to handle the
project with the capacity available . A way to
prevent sub-optimization of project capacity is
to centrally organize the resource planning of all
projects in the organization.
Seven Lean
Seven Wastes of Project
Symptoms in an
IT organization
Transportation Too many hand-overs. Unnecessary
data exchange, paperwork to be re-
entered in another system.
Projects delayed and errors in
systems delivered.
Inventory Excess work in progress. More
storage (physical and digital)
than required, files waiting to be
Unbalanced project or application
portfolio. Redundant hardware,
multiple redundant repositories.
Motion Wasted effort searching for information. Accessing poorly designed systems.
Waiting Projects held up by inefficient
governance. Delays because of slow
decision making or non-availability of
key staff.
System downtime, slow and
outdated hardware, slow response
time of applications, manual
Over-processing Same issues appearing in project
delivery. Many extra steps, often
reinventing the wheel.
Reporting unintelligible technical
metrics to salesmen and marketers,
over-processing of data.
Overproduction Material written but never read.
Sending out or processing items that
are still subject to change, sending
unnecessary information.
Excess project documentation.
Excess service reports.
Defects Redo of work not related to the
primary deliverable. Erroneous data
entries, invoice errors, knowledge
Many defects in IT systems.
Systems not fit for purpose. Bugs,
errors, unauthorized access,
mismatches in data structure.
Table 1: Seven Lean wastes applied to Project Management
Figure 6: A factory-approach to a large set of projects (each with its unique characteristics)
Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
9 Lean Six Sigma in IT
Agile meets DevOps
Applying Lean principles to
Software Development
9 Lean Six Sigma in IT
Atos plays a leading role in the development
of DevOps. The Atos DevOps manifesto in a
“ Customer satisfaction over processes and
“ Business functionality over process
“ Automation of processes over labor-intensive
“ Evaluate and improve over contractual
“ Knowledge over documentation.
By applying DevOps, organizations see the
following benefits:
“ Improved quality of code – 50% fewer failures.
“ Improved quality of software deployments –
12 times faster restore.
“ More frequent software releases – 30 times
more than “non DevOps” organizations.
This translates into productivity increase
and cost savings:
“ Productivity increases of up to 40%.
“ Software development effort reductions of up
to 25%.
“Using the SAFE®
framework we are
able to implement
a well-governed
DevOps organization
that truly runs like
DevOps takes Agile a step further by enabling
continuous delivery with faster Time-to-
Market, lower Total-Cost-of-Ownership,
Automated Provisioning, Automated Testing
and Continuous Deployment. This significantly
reduces feedback loops and mitigates risks.
DevOps breaks down the traditional silos with
multidisciplinary teams, providing a continuous
flow of new innovative features to the
customer; eliminating waste through maximum
automation (e.g. reducing manual hand-overs);
and dramatically decreasing lead time from
“Go” to “Show” by using unified ‘product teams’
instead of separate ‘project maintenance
teams’. The extension of continuous Integration
is seen clearly in a far higher level of automation
in respect of both QA and the deployment,
whereby every commitment flows into a
production release.
The challenge facing an IT organization ‘of the
past’ is to find a way to respond to changes ‘for
the future’. The answer has quite recently been
sought in Agile/SCRUM methodologies that
enable Continuous Integration with the promise
of faster projects, more value for money and
involvement of the business through a Product
Agile/SCRUM has proven to be a step in the
right direction, but not quite enough. One
could say that DevOps – the combination of
Development and IT Operations – is matured
Figure 7: The DevOps cycle
DevOps process:
Short iterations, fast deployment, team includes application management
Inputfrom Executives,
Team, Stakeholders,
Customers, Users
Product Owner The Team
Product Backlog
Team selects starting
at top
as much as it can
commit to deliver
byend of Sprint
Task Breakout
Sprintend date and team
deliverabledo not change
1 -4 Week
24 Hours
Finished Work
Daily Scrum
Ranked list
of what is
Based on the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFE®)
SAFE® and Scaled Agile Framework® are registered marks of Scaled Agile, Inc
10Lean Six Sigma in IT
The Atos ITIL ProcessHouse
A best practice model using
the ProcessHouse methodology
Level 2 Service Operation
The event
process is not
This process is
fully supported by
ServiceNow (portal
plus backend)
This process is
fully supported by
ServiceNow (portal
plus backend)
This process is
fully supported by
ServiceNow (portal
plus backend)
management is
supported in
Level 3
Figure 8: Level 2 and 3 of Atos ITIL ProcessHouse in MS-PowerPoint
Atos ProcessHouse
PowerPoint Process Generator
Clear Data-
Fill Empty
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6
ITIL Service
Functional escalation. As soon as it becomes clear that the Service Desk is unable to
resolve the incident itself (or when target times for first-point resolution have been
exceeded – exceeded – whichever comes first), the incident must be immediately
escalated for further support.
ITIL Service
Hierarchic escalation. If incidents are of a serious nature (for example Priority 1
incidents) the appropriate IT managers must be notified, for informational purposes
at least.
ITIL Service
Each of the support groups involved with the incident handling will investigate and
diagnose what has gone wrong – and all such activities (including details of any ac-
tions taken to try to resolve or re-create the incident) should be fully documented in
the incident record so that a complete historical record of all activities is maintained
at all times.
logging.png”HC for
more information
Table 2: Atos ITIL ProcessHouse in MS-Excel
ProcessHouse is a tool for creating reference models. Over the past few years, reference models have been created for various business sectors,
including Discrete Manufacturing and Pharmaceuticals.
The power of ProcessHouse lies in ability to adapt to any given process model: the best practice to the specific need of a given organization. The
ProcessHouse models consist of a number of hyperlinked MS-PowerPoint slides that are generated from an MS-Excel database. As the PowerPoint slides
are generated, there is no need to manually adjust the process drawings, just entering the core data is in an MS-Excel sheet and pressing the “create
PPT” slides automatically generates the process Powerpoints (see Figure 8). The advantage for both consultants and clients is the tremendous reduction
in time spent on adjusting and regenerating process maps.
Just entering the data into the MS-Excel sheets is sufficient to generate
the different process levels. Level 2 and level 3 are displayed on one slide.
Clicking on one of the level 3 processes, leads to a detailed description
including swim lanes (see Figure 9). This has proven to be very valuable
in a workshop setting as participants receive immediate feedback on any
changes they propose.
On level 4 the various ITIL activities are provided, which are described in
detail on level 5 (see Figure 9 on next page). Pressing the hyperlink in the
Info boxes, opens the corresponding BPMN workflow (see Figure 10).
On the highest level a process portal has been created (see Figure 11 on
next page).
The Atos ITIL ProcessHouse has proven itself in the context of
assessments: comparing the Current Mode of Operations (CMO) with the
ITIL Best Practice and based on these the definition of the Future Mode
of Operations. The ITIL Best Practice serves as a reference for defining
the Future Mode of Operations. In addition, it appears to be a valuable
knowledge tool in those cases where a simple set of PowerPoint slides is
good enough.
11 Lean Six Sigma in IT
The Atos ITIL ProcessHouse
A best practice model using the
ProcessHouse methodology
As part of the Service Management proposition,
Atos Consulting has now created the
ProcessHouse for IT Service Management
processes based on ITIL 2011. It contains a full
overview of the five ITIL 2011 core processes,
using 4 levels of abstraction, where the lowest
level provides BPMN flowcharts.
This Atos ITIL ProcessHouse contributes to
the full set of Atos Consulting Services in the
IT Service Management domain. As well as
the ProcessHouse best practices we also offer
IT Service Integration, service management
improvement based on Lean Six Sigma, and
implementation capabilities for IT Service
Management tooling such as ServiceNow.
Level 4
Level 5
ServiceDesk Agent
Incident Coordinator
Incident Analyst
Incident Manager
IncidentIdentification IncidentLogging
Work cannot begin on dealing
with an incident until it is
known that an incident has
occurred. It is usually
unacceptable, from a business
perspective, to wait until a user
is impacted and contacts the
Service Desk.
As far as possible, all key
components should be
monitored so that failures or
potential failures are detected
early so that the Incident
Management process can be
started quickly.
Ideally, incidents should be
resolved before they have an
impact on users!
All incidents must be fully
logged and date/time stamped,
regardless of whether they are
raised through a Service Desk
telephone call or whether
automatically detected via an
event alert.
All relevant information
relating to the nature of the
incident must be logged so that
a full historical record is
maintained – and so that if the
incident has to be referred to
other support group(s), they
will have all relevant
information to hand to assist
 

Press here for more information Press here for more information 

Figure 9: Level 4 and 5 of Atos ITIL ProcessHouse in MS-PowerPoint
11 Lean Six Sigma in IT
Figure 11: Atos ITIL ProcessHouse process portal in MS-PowerPoint
Figure 10: Level 5 corresponding BPMN workflow
Log New
Incident INC2.1
Select incident
Model if
Available INC2.2
Follow Model
Follow Model
Select impact
and Urgency
Assign Incident
to Group INC2.6
Provice Short description,
Incident description, Service
Offering, Support Offering
and CI INC2.4
INC 2 Incident Logging
Team Atos
This is the first phase of the Incident Management process.
This phase will be followed by the Incident Investigation Diagnosis
phase. Note that logging of incidents that go through the service desk is
already done in the call management process.
and Diagnosis
12Lean Six Sigma in IT
The Lean IT Pyramid
Lean principles at the core of
Lean principles have been applied in the
manufacturing industry for a very long time,
but in recent years we have seen the Lean
philosophy gaining substantial ground in the
service industry, more specifically in IT services.
The main trigger for this movement is the
perceived inefficacy in large IT projects, which
manifests itself in unmet timelines, scaled down
acceptance criteria and overspending. Equally,
the targeted efficiency levels in IT operations
still pose a challenge to many organizations.
In a nutshell, Lean IT enhances the performance
of IT processes and services and eases the
partnership with the business.
So how can an organization kick-off its Lean IT
transformation journey?
A widely acknowledged framework for
assessing the maturity of Lean within an IT
organization is the Lean principles pyramid by
Steven C. Bell and Michael A. Orzen, see figure
Lean IT pyramid
The Lean principles of Bell and Orzen are
specifically designed to be applied in an
IT environment. They provide guidance to
IT practitioners in the transition towards
operational excellence and help in laying
the foundation for a culture of continuous
improvement. Additionally, complying
with these principles will result in a better
understanding of the business needs.
“Lean IT enables
organizations to
beat complexity and
drive higher quality
in IT projects and
The 9 Lean Principles
1. Continuity of purpose
Obtaining clarity of the organization’s
strategic plan and getting the team to
collectively row in the same direction.
2. Respect for people
Unlocking the creativity and potential
of people by treating them with
genuine respect and creating a
culture of positive engagement.
3. Pursuit of perfection
Creating a learning environment
which stimulates continuous
improvement and where challenges
are effectively addressed.
4. Proactive behavior
Let employees take initiative and
assume personal responsibility for the
quality of work.
5. Voice of the customer
Understanding the customer’s
requirements and preferences as
a prerequisite for successful value
6. Quality at the source
The act of identifying and solving
problems directly at the source and
thereby preventing imperfect work
to reach the next point in the value
7. Systems thinking
Develop an understanding of the
interdependent structures in an
organization to identify where value is
created or waste is added.
8. Flow/Pull/JIT
Strive towards a flow of materials and
information without any interruptions
throughout the entire value stream.
9. Culture
Shared beliefs and values that
promote an a mindset on continuous
Figure 12: The Lean IT Pyramid
Proactive Behavior
Constancy of
Respect for
Pursuit of
Voice of
the Customer
at the
Source Systems
13 Lean Six Sigma in IT
As strategic IT sourcing often has a significant
impact on operations, a growing number
of stakeholders in IT services recognize
the importance of thinking from a holistic
perspective taking into account the entire
partnership. This means viewing the
interconnected processes from supplier to
customer and being mindful of the cause-and-
effect interdependencies and which ones either
add value or create waste.
IT partnerships
Before embarking on a Lean IT partnership
journey, it is important to distinguish between
the different types of IT partnerships based
on the nature and level of complexity and
Lean IT Partnering
The road towards effective
and efficient IT partnerships
Lean IT in a connected
In recent years we have seen technological
innovation and globalization significantly
change the way companies conduct business
and manage their operations. The marketplace
is now more connected than ever as companies
seek to carry out activities together with
suppliers, partners, customers and stakeholders.
Effectively tapping into the interconnectedness
of the marketplace enables companies to
achieve higher levels of strategic agility and
enhance their competitive edge.
Partnerships in the area of IT are also no longer
a trend, but have now become a normality.
The shift from traditional customer-supplier
relationships to partnerships in IT is now more
evident than ever. Companies are recognizing
that high quality information and highly
functional systems are essential to perform
sustainably in a competitive world. Hence the
decision to engage in an IT partnership with a
supplier is considered of strategic importance.
At the same time, the Lean philosophy is also
gaining a greater foothold in the IT services
industry. The growing demands on IT to
deliver services right the first time requires a
focus on the continuous improvement aspect
of information and information systems. The
Lean IT pyramid (Bell Orzen) covered in the
preceding chapter is a useful framework for
companies pursuing an increased level of Lean
maturity in their IT organization.
But what about applying Lean principles in IT
partnerships? Nowadays heaps of organizations
can call themselves successful Lean
practitioners , but many of them face challenges
when shifting the scope from an internal
application of Lean to a partnership level.
These different types of outsourcing
relationships require different levels of
collaboration, trust and have different incentives
to apply Lean. Hence, it is essential to engage
in the type of IT partnership that matches the
strategic intent, competencies and the ways of
working of both partners.
Lean IT assessment
As a member of the Lean Education and
Research Network (LEArN), Atos has played
an instrumental role in a Lean IT partnering
research study. This study has led to advanced
insights into the barriers and drivers for success
in Lean IT partnering through analyzing
a selection of case studies and holding
workshops to examine improvement potential.
Additionally, the research findings postulate
how partners can create value through Lean
leadership and how to select the appropriate
Lean tools and techniques that fit naturally with
the objectives of the IT partnership at hand.
4 Steps of the Lean IT scan
The LEAN IT scan offered by Atos assesses your
IT partnership on the Lean enterprise principles
created by Bell and Orzen. By following a 4 step
plan, our clients are not only provided with a
deeper understanding of where they are on
their Lean journey, but also an ability to detect
gaps to the desired state and recommendations
for addressing those gaps.
About LEArN
LEArN is an initiative of Nyenrode Business
University. The objective is to promote
innovation and excellence in organizations
through development, training and application
of the Lean management philosophy. Atos is a
research partner of LEArN and contributes by
bringing in experience and knowledge from the
13 Lean Six Sigma in IT
Relation types
1. Classical supplier relationship
“ Nature
“ Goal
relationship between
two firms.
Attain cost savings.
2. Partnership
“ Nature
“ Goal
Strategic alliance
between two firms.
Create synergy
resulting in benefits
for each partner
3. Network relationship
“ Nature
“ Goal
Organic flexible
structure between
three or more firms.
Bundle expertise
to deliver highly
complex products or
Interviews on all organisational levels
Analysis based on the LEAN IT model
Report including recommendations
Orientation and scoping
14Lean Six Sigma in IT
Why Atos Consulting?
Our expertise and experience
Atos Consulting offers a unique combination
of knowledge, experience and pursuit. We
have an extensive pool of certified consultants
that bring in years of experience in optimizing
processes at the interface of Business and
Information Technology. As part of a global
IT company, we know how to best access
and extract value from data. We can manage
Lean Six Sigma projects for you, but we also
offer training trajectories to pass the essential
skills to your staff and enable them to lead
quality improvement projects autonomously
in the future. A highlight of our approach is the
sharing of knowledge and experience by our
experts, onboarding the employees in (cultural)
changes and providing insights into methods
for sustaining improved quality levels after
Our approach
Our success formula in Lean and Six Sigma
projects is characterized by consistently
working closely with the client in both the
design and implementation phase of the
project to ensure that quality improvements
are sustained and a culture of continuous
improvement is created.
The ultimate goal of our service offering is
not the delivery of a product, but to ensure
clients are left with a stronger operational
capability. The focus lies on improving the
learning capacity of the client organization
so that they can do it themselves tomorrow.
Hence it not uncommon for our role to evolve
from managing to guiding and eventually to
15 Lean Six Sigma in IT
More information
Please visit www.atosconsulting.nl
Our portfolio Business Process Management
NL address:
Papendorpseweg 93
3528 BJ Utrecht
Contact us:
Our team
More information
Please visit www.uk.atosconsulting.com
Our portfolio Business Process Management
UK address:
4 Triton Square
Regent’s Place
London NW1 3HG
Contact us:
Robert-Jan Streng
Partner Business Process Management
+31 6 51 24 37 40
Dragana Vujkovic
Senior BPM Consultant/Six Sigma Black Belt
+31 6 13 73 69 35
Rik Otto
Senior BPM Consultant/Six Sigma Black Belt
+31 6 30 45 86 44
Ewoud Guldemond
Senior Consultant HR Processes Technology
+31 6 83 63 54 96
Reza Khalesi
Partner Business Performance Improvement
+44 20 76 94 35 31
Will Powell
Associate partner Business Performance Improvement
+44 79 67 25 45 38
Cameron Orr
Principal Business Performance Consultant
+44 78 54 30 90 30
Atos, the Atos logo, Atos Consulting, Atos Worldgrid, Worldline, BlueKiwi, Bull, Canopy the Open Cloud Company, Yunano, Zero Email, Zero Email Certified and The Zero
Email Company are registered trademarks of the Atos group. October 2015 © 2015 Atos
Atos Consulting is the consulting arm of Atos
and an integral part of the company. It provides
«end-to-end» services and solutions, ranging
from supporting strategy development through
to enterprise solutions and technology
Its capabilities include a fully integrated
approach that ensures that every aspect of
organizations – people, process and technology
– is fully aligned to the business strategy.
Atos is a leader in digital services with 2014 pro
forma annual revenue of circa € 11 billion and
93,000 employees in 72 countries. Serving
a global client base, the Group provides
Consulting Systems Integration services,
Managed Services BPO, Cloud operations,
Big Data Cyber-security solutions, as well
as transactional services through Worldline,
the European leader in the payments and
transactional services industry. With its deep
technology expertise and industry knowledge,
the Group works with clients across different
business sectors: Defense, Financial Services,
Health, Manufacturing, Media, Utilities, Public
sector, Retail, Telecommunications, and
Atos is focused on business technology that
powers progress and helps organizations to
create their firm of the future. The Group is the
Worldwide Information Technology Partner for
the Olympic Paralympic Games and is listed
on the Euronext Paris market. Atos operates
under the brands Atos, Atos Consulting, Atos
Worldgrid, Bull, Canopy, and Worldline.
About Atos
For more information:

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