Taking a Lean approach to service management can help you to reduce so-called “waste” in your daily work so you can focus on what truly matters: delivering customer value.

When we talk about waste, we’re talking about pretty much anything that doesn’t add value for your customers. The Lean principles force you to step into your customer’s shoes and view your services from their perspective. And eliminating unnecessary steps from your processes means you can work more quickly and efficiently, lowering your resolution times.

For IT departments, many of whom find themselves unable to adapt their services to meet their customers’ rising expectations, this sounds like a dream solution.

But how do you apply a Lean approach to service management?

Let’s say you’re working at a service desk which handles purchase requests for employees. There’s a rule that for every purchase – no matter how small – employees have to submit a request that requires approval. The products employees can order and who needs to approve the request varies depending on the employee’s role and the purchase amount. This makes for a messy and complicated process and results in a great deal of manual work for service desk employees.

Here’s how a Lean approach to service management could make this process smoother:

Reduce transfer moments

A great way to get started with Lean is by examining all the transfer moments and wait times in your process. The more transfer moments you have, the more time your team spends on documenting, familiarizing and discussing. And teams spend a lot of time waiting for each other, resulting in long delays.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to reduce waste at transfer moments. In the scenario above, you could eliminate manual work by automating the approval process, so that end-users can only order products according to their role and approval requests are automatically sent to the right person. This would save the team plenty of transfer time and allow them to help the customer more quickly.

Eliminate unnecessary steps

If you want to be Leaner, it’s also worth taking a look at the specific steps in your process. Are all of these steps strictly necessary? Are there instances in which the process could still work with fewer steps?

In the case of the purchase requests, you could look carefully at the products which need to be registered and approved. What if you no longer registered small purchases? Would it be okay to purchase some products without approval? What risks would this entail? By taking a more flexible approach to your processes and only keeping steps that are absolutely necessary, you could reduce the cycle time for such requests while also reducing the number of tedious tasks that your employees have to perform.

Take a flexible approach to processes

Because Lean focuses on delivering customer value above all else, it forces you to take a more flexible approach to your processes, rather than following them to the letter. You can’t reduce waste without taking frameworks and processes with a pinch of salt – and this applies to Lean itself, by the way. This attitude is part of an approach we at TOPdesk call service flux: embracing change and using frameworks flexibly to make iterative improvements to your services. All so you can adapt to a constantly changing world.

Think a more flexible approach could be what your IT department needs? Read this blog for 3 signs that your IT department is in need of a mindset shift.