The rise of Lean IT: the examples of service and incident management

Daniel Batchelor

Global Head of Corporate Communications, Amadeus IT Group

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IT Service Management (ITSM) is one of the many aspects of IT practice in which the strategies of lean have made progress. Lean IT involves analysis of ‘root conditions’ rather than that of a ‘root cause’, because the lean approach removes the conditions that allow a failure to occur.


It is different from simply applying a point fix, which may only remove one element of an error, rather than everything that led to it.

The short ascent of IT service management, and its evolution toward Lean IT, should not disguise an important truth. Lean means strategy, because it is a long-term campaign, not a quick-fix tactic. It is about slow, mindful planning, as a means of ending jams and the panics that follow jams.

Analysing the root conditions of errors

Lean is not just about execution, nor is it just about correcting errors; it is about analysing the root conditions of errors, anticipating them, and cutting the mean time needed to recover from them.

Among other tasks, ITSM means managing incidents encountered by front-line operations. The old approach to incident management was to try to optimise the cost per incident. The new, lean strategy here is very different.

If the customer reports an incident, he or she has already lost value. So with lean, all incident management processes need to be activities to restore customer value. Such activities don’t create new customer value, and so are, strictly speaking, ‘waste’.

Yet if the focus is kept not just on customer redress around the individual incident, but also on avoiding repetitions of the incident, the durable value added to customers in general will far exceed that made up to the single disappointed customer in a single episode.

That is why, with lean, one spends time and a fair amount of money rooting out the causes of each and every incident – provided only that an even greater amount of money becomes available through reductions in the volume of incidents.

Download a full copy of our Cleared for take-off paperfor more on the possibilities of Lean IT in the travel industry.