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Easier, Simpler, Faster: System Strategies for Lean IT (Book Review)

Updated on November 26, 2012
4 stars for Easier, Simpler, Faster

Easier, Simpler, Smarter, Faster: Systems Strategy for Lean IT is one of the few books I have found addressing lean implementation and Information Technology. It is a and easy book to read by Jean Cunningham (co-author of Real Numbers) and Duane Jones that covers a number of topics regarding the impact of lean on business systems including:

  1. Lean Basics to Define Your Customer Value, Eliminate Wastes, and Align IS
  2. Applying Standardization to Information Systems
  3. Integrating Your Order Entry into the Information Highway
  4. Selecting, Enabling, and Customizing Your ERP System
  5. Kanban: Reducing Inventory and Managing Pull with Suppliers
  6. Reshuffling MRP to Align with Kanban and Lean
  7. Mission to Go Live – Building Teams and Overcoming Barriers
  8. Capturing, Managing and Sharing Information
  9. Lean Accounting Systems

Most of the topics are well summarized but of all the value I took from the book I will likely return to the Thirteen Guiding Principles for a Lean Environment:

  1. Automate only if it is easier, faster, and complements your culture.
  2. Build Commonality to increase visibility and access to information.
  3. The primary purpose of security is to avoid data corruption and provide information access.
  4. Nothing last forever.
  5. Systems and software inflexibility can be the greatest inhibitor of change.
  6. Plain English systems instructions are better than shorthand.
  7. Keystrokes matter to power users.
  8. Capture everything you can about your customer.
  9. Archive customer history; 'clean house' on internal transactions.
  10. Capture information once and be done.
  11. Use commonality to create in information highway.
  12. Productivity for all is more important than productivity for one.
  13. Huge data stores are easy to manipulate.

These principles provide guidance for managing IT systems and eliminating waste.

In addition to the Thirteen Guiding Principles it was clear that the success that the authors realized by transforming their information systems was the business ownership of the processes and the focus on processes before technology. This exemplified by the fact that they placed a moratorium on system changes during kaizen events for a year until they identified the best processes and established a system overhaul as a strategic objective.

While I enjoyed the book I did take exception to the authors' brazen disregard for the value of information technology professionals and insinuation that it was easier to teach "business people" programming than "IT people" lean. While the authors were clearly successful in their environment retraining some of the business leaders in managing successful system management and implementation they may want to reconsider the idea of training all employees in successful lean implementation to truly create a lean culture; rather than write of the ability of IT professional to lead the transformation.

As one of the few books available on this topic I would recommend Easier, Simpler, Faster to business and IT leaders who are looking to effect change and establish strategic information systems.

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