Leading The Way To A LEAN Problem Management Culture
The Pink Elephant 2011 ITIL Project of the Year Award winners were Deutsche Bank. This award “recognizes an organization that has demonstrated significant commitment to ITIL and ITSM best practices with involvement of certified staff, and visible positive outcomes.” The 2011 runners-up were Adobe and Air Canada Jazz.
You can learn more about this interesting initiative next year at PINK13, when Joseph Gallagher, Vice President, Global Problem Management Process Owner at Deutsche Bank will present Leading The Way To A LEAN Problem Management Culture
I talked to Joe about the project.
Joe, for those readers who weren’t at the ceremony at PINK12, please tell us a little about Deutsche Bank’s winning project
The DB project was called “Problem Management Transformation Program” - at the end of 2010 we realized that, although we had a nice, repeatable problem management process, we were not working very efficiently, nor were we providing our clients with consistent quality. At the beginning of 2011 we initiated this program to address both of these weaknesses, by conducting a LEAN 5D review of our process and implementing higher standards for producing a quality problem analysis. LEAN helped us to identify various types of TIM WOOD [Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, Overproduction, Defects] deficiencies in our process, which we drove out through automation, consolidation, industrialization (moving very repetitive tasks to a support organization that focus on those tasks and become very efficient at it), and elimination. By Q4’2011 we had removed close to 40% waste from the process, allowing our problem managers to focus on the two areas where they add the most value – root cause determination, and remediation determination. As part of the LEAN component we “went back to the drawing board” as it relates to the proper way to implement program management as detailed within ITIL v3.0. We found that over the years we had “over engineered” the problem management process, making it cumbersome and slow, with lots of “cool steps” in the process that really added no value to the client. Finally, we improved our overall quality by aligning our problem managers to specific business areas, giving them a better understanding of the applications/infrastructure they support, which made them much more effective over time. We also trained all our problem managers (and all were certified) in Kepner Tregoe Resolve, giving them the foundation of a rational and consistent thought process.
What have been the consequences or impact of winning this award?
Consequences – I believe we have set the bar very high and expectations for problem management in 2012 will be well above that bar. But we are up to the task and looking forward to really extending the value we add throughout the organization. One of the consequences of the project itself, is that it has allowed us to shift a portion of our problem management resources to focus on more proactive problem management – driving problems out of the organization before they lead to serious incidents
You are presenting next year on LEAN Problem Management Culture. I’m willing to bet not too many organisations have applied LEAN principles to problem management in particular, especially on a global scale. You had difficulty sourcing expertise?
We were fortunate at the beginning of the project to have an outside firm come in and teach us the LEAN concepts and help us with the initial Define and Diagnose phases. From there, it became fairly straightforward to identify and address the various types of waste we discovered.
And did you find any resources at all pertaining to LEAN and problem management?
We found no resources externally or internally that had experience using LEAN within a problem management process. Although the LEAN methodology seems to be very easy to apply to any process.
Were there peculiarities to problem management when applying LEAN to it?
Measuring waste was a challenge at first, as we were using 2010 baseline, which was filled with hazards related to data quality. We saw the LEAN program coming in early Q4’2010 so we paid particular attention in Q4’2010 to provide as accurate a reflection of our workload and process as possible, so that could serve as the baseline for 2011 measureable improvements.
Can you expand on what that was about please?
One of the issues we recognized in 2011 is that the quality of our data was not great. This was due to the lack of strong governance and quality controls around what we were entering in problem records. It wasn’t as bad as garbage-in-garbage-out, but it was inconsistent (an artifact of having problem managers coming together into a single organization in 2010, each bringing their own “unique” perspective on what was required to be documented in a problem record). We started to change this in Q4’2010 just as a matter of good practice, but also recognizing the fact that in order to measure 2011 improvements we needed to have at least one quarter of reasonably good data as the baseline.
Another peculiarity with problem management is that you really can’t remove “waste” from the actual root cause investigation itself. Sure, we can streamline our root cause sessions, and provide more consistent results (KT), but you can’t “squeeze” much waste out of this part of the process, which by its nature, has lots of variability due to the different levels of investigation required. Thus, we set out to remove all the waste before and after the actual root cause investigation, and that’s where we reaped lots of benefit.
What tools or techniques helped you with the cultural change over 73 countries?
There was lots and lots of training, communication, and awareness throughout the year. I cannot understate the importance of this aspect – updates were provided to the problem management staff and senior management at least monthly, and sometimes more often. We also made LEAN improvements part of all the problem manager’s objectives – they were all required to provide at least two LEAN improvement initiatives that made it to production. Finally, we governed the process very well – we had daily health checks to ensure we were on target with our objectives, and weekly trend reports to see where we needed to shift resources.
Watch this blog for a future discussion with Joe and George Spalding of Pink Elephant about the judges’ views on this project and why it won the Award. And go hear Joe at PINK13.
At the conference I recommended Jim Womack’s book, Gemba Walks, a collection of his letters (think very brief essays) on what he has learned and observed while watching the work (Gemba). What Joe describes above includes actually observing the work being done. Knowledge worker work can be harder to observe than physical labor. That only makes it more all the more interesting - and requires that managers look up from their reports.
Jim Womack’s essays are also at http://www.lean.org. Look under the Knowledge tab. This recent article touches on the need to see the actual work. http://www.lean.org/womack/ColumnArchive.cfm?y=2011#Col1869
Previous entry: Governance sessions at PINK13