Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How I applied Lean ideology at my workplace

How I applied Lean ideology at my workplace

This week’s articles are related to “lean manufacturing and total quality management”. They discuss process improvement ideologies through various techniques like lean, six sigma and theory of constraints. I didn’t know until now, but I realized after reading these articles that I applied lean ideology during my internship and I am going to explain how.

“Lean” thinking, in simple words, is a process where emphasis is laid on removing waste time. This means that resource spending on an activity other than the one that provide value to the end consumer is a target for elimination (1).

I interned at a Healthcare information systems company where my job revolved around developing and testing healthcare applications. We were developing applications in a an Agile framework, which means we had a new build ready every 2 weeks, which had to be tested by the QA team.
We spend nearly 40 man-hours each week retesting the same features, data from incoming servers, etc. every week, as data is critical in healthcare and needs to be accurate. Also there was a process where  developers conneted graphs created to the servers manually. While doing this, they spend about an hour for every graph they connected. To add to this there were 4 servers- test, dev, staging and production. This meant they would spend about 4 hours for every script to be deployed onto 4 servers.
Now under the “LEAN” ideology, any effort spent on
1.       manual inspection- testing data integrity manually
2.       manual process handoff – back end integration
3.       counting activities
would qualify as waste time(2).

Any process involving manual check is a waste of time and therefore it made sense to automate these. I wrote automation scripts which tested integrity of the data from the backend servers and displayed on the front end of the application. Thus, saving valuable resources and time (40 man-hours, every 2 week). I used automated scripts to hook the graphs in the servers too. This reduced the time from an hour to a minute. This made the process more efficient by 98%.

Thus, using “lean” ideology, I removed the wasteful processes and increased the efficiency of our test and deployment teams.

1-lecture notes, week4, Introduction to Supply Chain Management, Tim Zak, Heinz College

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