10 Weeks to Lean Integration

Lean Integration is a management system that emphasizes focusing on the customer, driving continuous improvements, and the elimination of waste in end-to-end data integration and application integration activities.

Lean practices are well-established in other disciplines such as manufacturing, supply-chain management, and software development to name just a few, but the application of Lean to the integration discipline is new.

Based on my research, no-one has tackled this topic directly in the form of a paper or book. But the world is a big place, so if some of you readers have come across prior works, please let me know. In the meantime, you heard it here first!

Lean manufacturing is a management system that emphasises creating value for end customers and eliminating activities that are not value add (waste). Its principles were derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS) which was developed over 50 years ago, but since the 1990’s is simply referred to as Lean. While Lean is rooted in product manufacturing, it is now widely regarded as a management approach that can be applied effectively to a wide range of product and service industries. Lean is closely related to, and borrows from, other methodologies including Value Network, Theory of Constraints, Six Sigma and Statistical Process Control including the works of W. Edward Deming.

Lean Software Development is an agile approach that translates Lean manufacturing principles and practices to the software development domain. It was adapted from TPS and introduced by Mary and Tom Poppendieck in their book Lean Software Development and expanded in Implementing Lean Software Development.

Lean Integration builds on these prior works by applying their principles to the process of integration. The definition of integration used in this blog series is “the process of making independent information technology elements work together as a cohesive system”.

Lean Integration may be applied in various integration domains including:

  • System Integration is the bringing together of component subsystems into one cohesive system and ensuring that they interoperate effectively.
  • Data integration accesses data and functions from disparate systems to create a combined and consistent view of core information for use across the organization to improve business decisions and operations.
  • Enterprise Application Integration enables information exchange and process automation across business applications that were independently developed, may use incompatible technology, are typically based on different data models, and remain independently managed.

Software systems are, by their very nature, flexible and will change over time (except for many legacy systems which, by definition, are not very flexible). Integration in each of these domains therefore is not just a one-time activity and instead is an ongoing activity. In summary therefore, Lean Integration is the application of Lean principles to the challenges of data integration and application integration.

Over the next 10 weeks, I intend to clarify what Lean Integration is and how to implement it in a series of blog postings. The rough plan (which is subject to change as my research progresses and readers submit comments) is based on the seven original core principles of Lean as follows:

Week 1: Introduction of Lean Integration (this posting)
Week 2: Eliminating waste
Week 3: Sustaining knowledge
Week 4: Planning for change
Week 5: Delivering fast
Week 6: Empowering the team
Week 7: Building in quality
Week 8: Optimizing the whole
Week 9: Deming’s 14 Points
Week 10: Practical Implementation Considerations

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