Waste is everywhere. We throw away a lot of packaging, clothes, and perfectly good food. Not only consumers cope with waste, but organizations also fail to achieve efficient processes, which leads to lower profitability and potential loss of market share.
Fortunately, management philosophies such as Lean and Six Sigma have helped companies continuously improve their internal processes for decades. By focusing on the customer and several types of waste, project managers can apply a framework to identify processes that can be better optimized for value creation.
Moreover, stimulating a Lean mindset in company culture allows for continuous waste-detection and subsequent improvements geared towards value-creation.
Enabler for Lean development
However, there are processes that are not very suitable for a Lean approach, which makes it difficult to maximize value-creation and efficiency. For example, whereas IT provides many benefits, improving an IT landscape can have a tremendous impact on both costs and time. In addition, the moment a large IT upgrade is finished, it is likely it is already outdated. Information flows are notorious for these issues, yet they may be one of the largest drivers for organizational value creation. Who can eliminate waste without the right information, available at the right time?
To streamline information flows and free up resources for innovation, IT systems need to be efficient. Low-code or no-code solutions provide an excellent opportunity to achieve this. These technologies allow tech-savvy employees to develop their own applications, relatively easily and flexibly. They allow for significant decrease of waste across all Lean waste types. Some examples we would like to mention are:
- Defects will be reduced, as final applications are developed test-driven and partially automated, providing clearer direction for model adjustments. In addition, simplicity allows for quick and easy repairs.
- Overproduction (extra features) will be minimized, as citizen development bridges the gap between IT and business processes by involving stakeholders more directly, minimizing the need for assumptions and assuring only required features are developed.
- Reducing Waiting (delay). Waiting for approval, input or development itself will be less of an issue, since rapid application development allows for almost immediate User Acceptance Testing.
- Less Talent going to waste. Unused (IT) talent can be stimulated since low-code allows digital talent to shine without having to learn complex code or making large educational investments.
- Transportation (handoffs), and knowledge loss this is less applicable because there are fewer handoffs and fewer disparate teams involved. Also, low-code applications are easier to comprehend compared to traditional coding, the structure behind the build is more transparent and easier to comprehend.
- Inventory (backlog) due to for example changes in priorities will be less present. This because tasks in a low-code project are completed faster due to prebuild components, making the process far more agile.
- Motion (task switching), and accompanying waste of time, will be reduced. As citizen developers work on a limited number of applications and their focus is increased by quick completion of task. As well as the business knowledge needed to build the application is there which increases speed.
- Overprocessing (extra processes) will be reduced because simple and rapid application development eliminates the need for authorization or rubber-stamping.
- Unused ideas will become more apparent and easier to implement as they arise bottom-up because of citizen development. Testing or realizing ideas has a lower impact on resources and the threshold to start is lower. Room for innovation is created and investment to do so is low.
Besides decreasing waste in software development, low-code technology may also help general Lean or Six Sigma project management.
Where regular projects often require long expansive analyses, low-code applications enable organizations to perform much of this work.
For example, in manufacturing, a low-code application could be connected to a machine, measuring its output and identifying potential improvement opportunities automatically. Besides that, experiments can be executed quickly (reducing PDCA cycle time) through rapid application development.
It is clear low-code technology ticks all the Lean boxes and should therefore not be overlooked when implementing lean principles in IT. Reducing waste in information flows will in turn assist in reducing waste in product and money flows, increasing profitability at a very low investment threshold.
Interested in what Lean and Low-code can do for your organization? Contact us for a call so we can deep dive into this with one of our lean specialists.