Prioritizing lean practices for implementation in IT support services

Date08 February 2016
Publication Date08 February 2016
AuthorGoutam Kumar Kundu,Murali Manohar
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Prioritizing lean practices for
implementation in IT support
Goutam Kumar Kundu and Murali Manohar
VIT Business School, VIT University, Vellore, India
Purpose – The purpose of this study is to capture the perception of the IT support service practitioners
regarding the applicability of the lean practices and prioritize them after analyzing the gaps with
respect to current usage and importance from practitioners’ perspective.
Design/methodology/approach It involved development of an instrument to capture the
perceptions of the IT support service practitioners. The data collected was quantitatively analyzed by
using statistical techniques and it involved testing of the hypotheses.
Findings – The study conducted a gap analysis on the perceived current usage of the lean practices
versus the perceived ideal usages of the lean practices from practitioners’ perspective. The gap analysis
report revealed that gaps of all practices are not same from the practitioners’ viewpoint. This gap
analysis was useful for prioritizing of the practices and resource allocation.
Originality/value – This study was conducted in a relatively new domain, where mature empirically
based studies are scarce. This study set out to determine the practitioners’ perception of the
applicability of lean practices in IT support service organizations. It provides a sound basis for further
research on lean implementation in IT support service area.
Keywords Perception, IT service, Lean practice, Gap analysis
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
To survive in today’s competitive business environment, characterized by ever
increasing pressure to improve efciency and productivity (Mohrman-Albers and
Worley, 2010), many organizations have adapted the lean concepts to improve the
efciency of their business processes (Browaeys and Fisser, 2012).
Information Technology (IT) service providers are also facing pressure from their
customers to provide better provisioning of IT services so that that their business
operations run smoothly (Johnson et al., 2007). Although there is an increasing
awareness among the IT support service providers of the need to become
service-oriented and customer-focused, many of them are nding it difcult to change
their culture and processes (Cater-Steel, 2009). The culture of many IT support service
providers is technology-focused rather than customer-centric (Bruton, 2004).
Realizing the importance of IT service management, the Software Engineering
Institute developed the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), a process
improvement framework which provides organizations with the essential elements of
effective processes (Douglass, 2007). CMMI is a framework containing the best practices
for developing products and services (Wendler, 2012) and emphasizing the concept of
standardization (Rothenberger et al., 2010). It is based on Total Quality Management
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 1 December 2014
Revised 3 July 2015
1 September 2015
Accepted 13 October 2015
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.46 No. 1, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-12-2014-0064
(TQM) principles and primary objective of CMMI is quality improvement through
reduction of defects by focusing on improvements to the development and service
processes (Rothenberger et al., 2010).
The CMMI model comprises a set of process areas. Each process area is required to
achieve two types of goals:
(1) generic goals mapped to a set of generic practices; and
(2) specic goals mapped to a set of specic practices (Chrissis et al., 2011).
These goals are satised by implementing generic practices and specic practices. A
generic goal applies to multiple process areas, whereas a specic goal is for a particular
process area. CMMI offers two representations: staged and continuous (Chrissis et al.,
2011). In staged representation, the maturity level of an organization is categorized as
ve progressive maturity levels, namely, initial, managed, dened, quantitatively
managed and optimizing, representing anticipated organizational performance (Kulpa
and Johnson, 2008). In continuous representation, the elements provide a view of process
capability for individual process areas and each process capability level ranges from 0 to
5. A level of capability measures the performance of a process according to a given level
of requirements (Charkaoui et al., 2015).
The staged representation is most suitable for organizations that do not know which
processes need to be improved rst. However, the continuous representation provides
exibility to select processes that ts for achieving business goal of the organization
(Mutafelija and Stromberg, 2003). Most organizations prefer staged representation
wherein the organizational maturity is established and measured by maturity levels.
Maturity level corresponds to achieving a uniform level of capability for a process group
(CMMI Product Team, 2010). CMMI is based on the notion that the improvement of
maturity, embedded within process improvements, generates stronger performances
and qualities of products and services (Giachetti, 2010).
CMMI is a platform-independent high-level framework which provides guidance on
what to do, but not on how to implement (Alyahya et al., 2012;Petersen and Wohlin,
2010). This design feature makes it most useful to the widest range of organizations and
provides exibility to the organizations to integrate their own operational and strategic
goals into the framework for it to be effectively implemented. However, according to Cao
(2013), this design feature has proved be an impediment to organizations and some
methodology is needed to transform CMMI practices into a set of actions that are
detailed enough to be followed by people involved in implementation. To overcome this
impediment, other quality frameworks can be successfully integrated together to
provide a holistic solution to the organizational requirement of both requirement
guidelines and operational specications (Alfaraj and Qin, 2011).
CMMI is being used by many software development organizations in the USA and by
outsourcing contractors worldwide (Huang and Han, 2006) to evaluate and improve
processes (Rohloff, 2011). Many IT organizations in India have achieved Level 5 status
in the capability maturity models (Prasad and Nori, 2008).
However, even after adopting the CMMI model, many IT service providers nd it
difcult to achieve effective end-to-end service delivery requirements, and match the
process improvement goals with customer expectations and predict and measure the
capability in schedule, effort and quality (Murugappan and Keeni, 2003). Because of
these difculties, a few IT services organizations have started looking at other concepts
lean practices

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