Getting More from Your Application Portfolio - Page 2

Oct 9, 2007

Ramesh Dorairaj


The concept of motion in manufacturing is the time wasted by a worker in moving from one work station to another to complete a set of activities. Reduction of motion reduces fatigue in the worker. The ideal is that all the tools and the work item must be within easy reach.

In the application maintenance world, motion can be the translated as the amount of time a person spends ensuring that all necessary information and tools to complete his/her work are available at the right time and easily accessible.

To minimize the time spent by the maintenance team in motion, there are a few questions to ask:

  • How many times do you have to call the user to clarify a request?
  • How many times do you have to call another maintenance team to clarify a request?
  • How much of your time is spent in coordinating between a third-party vendor and your programmers and users.
  • How do you get the user to accept your fix/change to the application?
  • While completely eliminating movement is neither feasible, nor recommended (people-to-people interactions are far too important), providing people with an empowered desk-space with appropriate tools and information can greatly minimize the time wasted in non-value added movement.

    There are no set methodologies to minimize motion in the application maintenance context. However, there are a few things that can be done:

    Consider classifying requests into standard categories with templates for each category. Each of these requests has its own template and the user fills them in to ensure that clarifications are minimized.

    Consider introducing self-help features for some of these requests, like queries and reports. Educate the users on these features and gently turn away all such requests to the self-help feature.

    Consider nominating one member of the team as the business interface who will interpret user requests.

    Consider an on-line collaboration mechanism that eliminates the need for people to seek out information from other people on a regular basis.


    Waiting is closely related to motion. In fact, waiting induces motion in the context of application maintenance. Waiting can include idle time due to lack of tickets or work, and waiting for code being modified by another team member.

    The way to eliminate waiting is to let the team figure out and list the key problems that lead to the waiting. It could be the unpredictable arrival rates of defects with unrealistic resolution expectations, which can induce overstaffing and therefore, waiting and idle time.

    Editor’s Note: In next week’s column Ramesh will discuss ways of improving process, inventory, correction, and conveyance.

    Ramesh Dorairaj is head of Application Management Services for MindTree Consulting. Ramesh has more than 18 years of industry experience across domains such as banking, commercial markets, retail, utilities and manufacturing. He currently advises MindTree customer on better management of their application portfolio, establishing appropriate support organization structures, implementing quality frameworks like CMMi and scaling up IT organizations to meet growth challenges.

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