Lean IT With Value Stream Mapping Analysis: A Case Study in Software Development Life Cycle Process

Lean IT With Value Stream Mapping Analysis: A Case Study in Software Development Life Cycle Process

Bong Keun Jeong, Soo-Yeon Ji, Dong Hyun Jeong
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IRMJ.291527
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Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a useful tool for depicting the flow of materials and information in manufacturing and service processes. It is known as one of the most popular lean methods to identify bottlenecks, reduce cycle time, and improve current processes. Although VSM has been extensively used in manufacturing, there are limited studies that applied VSM in non-manufacturing environments. In this study, we present an application of VSM to improve Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process in an IT firm. The current process flows (as-is) are mapped to identify non-value-added activities as well as areas for improvement. Based on the analysis of the current state map, we propose recommendations, action plans, and a future state map (to-be-process). We estimate that, with the new process changes, IT project delivery time can be reduced from 210.5 days to 137.5 days – a 34.7% reduction in the software development life cycle process. This provides a powerful base for IT project management and enables the IT department to meet its expected project turnaround time.
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1. Introduction

Information technology (IT) has become an increasingly important part of firm activities. Effective IT management is crucial for supporting the day-to-day functions of business units and satisfying business requirements (Iden, 2012). To meet ever-changing market conditions and demands, firms expect IT to be more responsive and agile to the business environment. At the same time, they wish IT to provide higher resilience, control, quality of service, and availability. The main challenge for IT management is to balance these two potentially conflicting goals: flexibility versus control and lower costs (Attaran, 2004). Lean IT principles have gained increasing attention to improve IT service, resource, and process management. Lean IT is an application of lean principles that developed originally to reduce wastes in manufacturing for the management of information technology (Berrahal & Marghoubi, 2016). It refers to a holistic management system that aims at continuous improvement by reducing cost and lead-time and enhancing value and flexibility in IT management (Bell & Orzen, 2010). According to the lean business report, 92% of organizations implemented lean IT principles noticed moderate to significant improvements in project success. Respondents also indicated benefits such as simplifying team management and process complexity, more efficient business processes, and better management of changing priorities (Sharon, 2016).

Numerous lean tools and techniques are available, including root cause analysis, just-in-time (JIT), 5S, 5 Whys, seven wastes, and total productive maintenance. Among various lean tools, Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a helpful tool for identifying wastes and areas for improvement. VSM is a technique to analyze, design, manage the flow of materials and information, and apply a systematic way to evaluate these flows to develop an improvement plan (Ali, Petersen, & Schneider, 2016; Chen & Cox, 2012; Tapping & Shuker, 2003; Wang, Wu, Chi, & Li, 2020). It is one of the most commonly used lean tools to identify, visualize, and eliminate wastes in material and information flows (Sawhney, Kannan, & Li, 2009; Tortorella, Fogliatto, Anzanello, Marodin, & Esteves, 2016; Tyagi, Choudhary, Cai, & Yang, 2015). While VSM is well-established in manufacturing, their extension to service areas such as healthcare, call center, financial services, and IT is still limited (Ghobakhloo & Azar, 2018; Jeong & Yoon, 2016; Machado & Leitner, 2010; Snyder, Paulson, & McGrath, 2005).

The objective of this study is to present the application of VSM in a technology firm as a lean IT initiative. We apply VSM for improving the software development life cycle (SDLC) process by identifying process improvements areas, eliminating non-value-added activities, and reducing IT project delivery time. A case study conducted at XYZ Company is presented. XYZ is a leading telecommunication services company. Due to recent system architecture changes, the firm faces several challenges in delivering IT projects. There is a backlog of business requirements after the stabilization period of the new system. Besides, process inefficiency has led to an even higher number of project escalations. IT department wants to find ways to reduce the cycle time of the current software development life cycle process from planning to deployment. Using VSM, we present the current process flows and identify bottlenecks. More specifically, a map shows the current state of the SDLC process is drawn to separate value-added and non-value-added steps. We also calculate the amount of time and resources wasted on all activities. Then, the current map is analyzed to find ways to reduce wastes and streamline the processes. Based on the analysis, we provide recommendations and develop a future state map. Lastly, we discuss measurable benefits (e.g., cycle time reduction) with these process changes.

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