Develop your Software Team with Lean IT

The search for greater efficiency and waste reduction is the objective of every company. However, managers are not always aware of what happens in the Information Technology sector.

That’s where Lean IT appears, a methodology that brings dissemination among professionals in the area to achieve better results.

Lean IT is the adaptation of concepts originating from the Lean philosophy and the Toyota Production System for the IT area.

In this article, you will learn what is Lean IT and how you can implement it through a software development team.

What is Lean IT?

The overall goal of Lean is to deliver exactly what the customer is willing to pay exactly when the customer wants it. Also, you can minimize or eliminate activities that the customer doesn’t value.

To achieve these goals, Lean professionals aim to simultaneously reduce waste, variability, and inflexibility in IT operations through a proven lean methodology.

Applying Lean to Software Development

Lean is part of the IT field to ensure value delivery and continuous improvement. Its principles also help to eliminate waste and increase overall productivity.

It is important to know its 5 principles to apply them in the best way and disseminate these premises to all teams.  These IT teams need to adopt the methodology in their daily lives as well.

The bases of this flow have origins in Lean, where the movement of a small part makes them structure low-risk mechanisms in a continuous condition.

The adoption of the methodology and its tools happens due to some factors, perceived in the Information Technology segment:

  • Traditional methods of software development with many deficiencies;
  • Shorter and shorter delivery cycles;
  • Need to deliver continuous value and flow;
  • Demand for continuous improvement in delivery cycles;
  • Increasing demand on the part of the customer.

How is Lean IT Application?

From the beginning of lean in automobile manufacturing, its principles have successfully traveled to back-office processing and, more recently, to IT.

While the typical IT department bears little resemblance to a manufacturing line, many IT departments across industries have substantially improved their efficiency. IT adopted lean principles and adapting them to the IT environment.

In many ways, the IT department of a typical healthcare provider is similar to the IT functions of companies in other industries.

Every IT team grapples with the common challenges of keeping servers running, releasing new apps, and supporting end-user devices such as PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

Common Lean IT levers applicable to healthcare include the following:

  • standardizing routine processes
  • segment the work by complexity and urgency
  • pooling resources to break technology silos
  • cross-train teams across multiple systems or platforms to create a more flexible workforce
  • eliminating activities that don’t add value

The 5 Principles of Lean IT

The Lean philosophy establishes some basic principles for it to be implemented adequately, is mainly responsible for reducing waste and increasing productivity and product quality as a whole. In this sense, Lean IT has 5 principles described below:


Value is the first basic principle to be defined by Lean as it influences the entire process. And it is essential to let the customer define what is the value of the product or solution.

As easy as it may seem, it often proves to be a challenge to focus only on what the customer needs.

Having defined what the value of the product is for the customer, you can assume that this product or undergoes constant evolution and changes.

So that the dialogue and studies on the real value of the product or solution are key factors in the successful implementation of this principle.

Value Stream

As soon as you define what’s valuable to the customer, it’s time to understand the best production sequence for the activities that create that value. And the value stream turns the production line into a logical sequence, to improve productivity.

Value stream mapping is also an activity that you can perform when applying Lean Thinking in production since costs with resources or activities that do not add value must be identified and eliminated.

Continuous flow

Continuous flow is directly linked to the value stream. Since only activities that add value to the product are on the line, the continuous flow must ensure that production passes through these activities or tasks without interruption. The main idea is to meet the customer’s needs quickly, with agility in order processing and with little stock.

Pulled Production

At this stage, the production line becomes focused on the customer’s desire and what represents value for him. With that, it manages to reduce stock and waste with unnecessary work.

Based on this concept of pulled production, the company becomes efficient and only does what it will use. Thus avoiding the creation of stock and possible promotions or discounts to finish off spare stock.

Continuous improvement

The continuous improvement stems from the pursuit of perfection in processes, employee relations, products, and the company. The main objective of continuous improvement is to achieve perfection through what is valuable to the customer, keeping this in focus at all times.

The PDCA is based on cycles and focuses on improving the level of management through the efficient control of internal and external processes and activities.

Use metrics

Some metric points may help detect inefficient processes so that they can correct them before they harm the organization. However, the metrics must be relevant to the business and the IT industry.

  • How much information do you need?
  • How much data can you collect?
  • What are the reasons for collecting the information?

Analyze your ROI, which is one of the goals to check the relationship between the investment capital and the income. Within the results, it is possible to know where it is necessary to intervene.

Also, keep in mind that you must be careful with the number of metrics because they can become very complex. Moreover, it can require more processing time and, consequently, a waste of resources.

Meanwhile, you may focus only on those that are helpful to the organization. Check your goals and metrics to keep following your development rightly.

Factories and Software Development Lean IT Inputs

Lean’s creation as a concept to bring improvement and focus on the production line.  First of all, these concepts are also in application in software development, which results in great results.

Through Lean in software development is together with agile development techniques such as Agile, CI, CD, and DevOps, the IT area can leverage results by improving processes and accelerating development as a whole.

Therefore, some concepts, such as waste, are in a way to comparisons. On the production line, waste is something like an inventory in the process.

Furthermore, there may be overproduction, additional processing, and even other types of waste such as unnecessary transport or handling. Other aspects can be waiting on the production line and even the appearance of defects.

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