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22 December 2015
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Customer focus: implementation of Lean in service sector

Few people don’t know what Lean approach or methodology is and what benefits can it bring to a company and its customers. But how can this approach be implemented? How applicable is it for IT service? For over two years ICL Services have been systematically developing the culture of continuous improvement in the IT field and is now ready to share its experience.

There are several approaches to company management, which can help achieve long-term development and involve employees in the process of continuous improvement. Lean is one of the most effective approaches, which implementation does not require large investments. It has long been used in many international companies and has already proved its usefulness in improving the quality of products and services.

Historical background

Many advanced technologies emerge in the East, for instance, in Japan. Lean, which originally appeared in the Japanese automotive industry, is no exception. Now this approach is applied both in production and in service sector around the world. IT sector is the same here, adapted Lean helps companies improve their competitiveness, develop and build long-term relationships with customers.

In general, Lean approach is a set of tools and principles that are firmly interconnected and form a system based on common sense.

How to implement Lean?

How to make sure that all the principles of Lean approach become part of a standard business practice? Implementation of Lean tools in ICL Services began in December 2013 and lasted for 1 year. Now the support, the development of the use of Lean and the accumulation of experience of its effective application in the service sector are implemented.

Lean implementation plan in ICL Services included four stages:

  1. Preparation for implementation.
  2. Visualization and improvement of communication — introduction of «Quality Circles.»
  3. Implementation of tools for identifying and solving problems.
  4. Securing of achievements —introduction of tools for self-assessment of teams and work standardization.

Having implemented these four stages ICL Services received a system that helps manage continuous improvement.

Stage 1. Preparing for «take-off»!

The first step of a Lean introduction initiative is to find like-minded volunteers — champions among colleagues in each team. Champion is a team member who (ideally) is not a head manager, has communication skills and is willing to help the team to develop, as well as spread Lean knowledge and practices.

In this case, at the first stage a team of 4 project managers had identified the main Lean elements for the company, the rules for creating teams, the means of assessment of stage results and had formed an implementation schedule.

Later, each stage began with full-time training and consideration of the practical use of Lean tools. Upon completion of the stages each team was evaluated in order to decide whether to proceed to the next stage.

Find out more about the following stages on the portal of the «Director General» magazine.

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