Courtesy of Web Data Management
Lean manufacturing as espoused by Toyota Production Systems was
so popular that it became a trend then a standard and eventually
just a single word: lean.
Toyota sought to manufacture as efficiently as possible by
removing waste from its processes and operate just-in-time to
compress the deployment of resources. The clever chaps at Toyota
realised, however, that this would be impossible to perfect, so
they made "constant striving" one of their goals.
Lean incorporates so many good principles that it is a natural
extension to bring it into the world of data, application, and
process integration. Software systems are always in a state of
flux, unless they're legacy, which makes integration an ongoing
issue. The reasons are numerous and range from products reaching
end of life to business acquisitions.
As a result, integration seeks to make independent information
technology elements work together as a cohesive system for
applications across the enterprise. Data integration finds its
place across various keystone technologies, such as metadata
management, data warehousing, data migration, master data
management, data quality, cloud data integration, information life
cycle management and business-to-business data exchange.
Lack of data integration undermines efficient business
operations, which is precisely what lean seeks to achieve. Lean
principles and methodologies are interwoven with the fabric of
management. These principles urge companies to sustain knowledge,
plan for change, deliver quickly, empower the team, build quality
in, and optimise the whole - easily recognised benefits to many
businesses. A common thread is using resources and executing
operations as economically as possible.
Yet, for all the obvious benefits that lean offers, most
businesses don't adhere to lean principles.
There are many reasons why lean fails.
Businesses often decide it's a good idea to implement lean, even
on an initially small scale or pilot, so they plan and roll out a
lean project. However, in the vast majority of these cases, the
initial gains are lost because the activities, processes and
methodologies are eventually neglected. Short-term priorities
override other considerations. Turf wars between managers stifle
Federated lean deployment often bears similar rotten fruit.
Champions, drivers, or knowledgeable workers leave and they aren't
replaced by people with similar skills and knowledge. Culture
sometimes gets in the way and that magnifies the importance of
strong leadership. "We've always done things this way so there's no
need to fix what isn't broken." Sometimes budgets are slashed,
eroding support and resources.
The biggest issue that businesses face in implementing lean
integration then isn't that they need new software tools or a spate
of different - and often prohibitively expensive - new systems.
They need the right people, with the right attitude and knowledge,
and most urgently, require consistent and thorough application of
principles, standards and procedures.
Businesses that want lean benefits must maintain the integrity
of their lean programmes. Budgets can be cut, people replaced,
silos maintained, autonomous businesses and divisions fostered, as
long as it is done with the primary consideration of a united lean
operation that operates as a virtual whole. Failure to do so
results in waste and that scuppers any lean effort.