Wipro Studies TPS to Achieve Lean Transactions

I’m very excited about an article in Business Week titled “Taking a Page from Toyota’s Playbook” on how Indian info tech companies are adopting the Toyota model. As an example, Wipro visited a Toyota factory to study TPS, concluding “The goal for Wipro is to become the Toyota of business services.” These people get it.
How is Wipro applying what are essentially Lean manufacturing principles (Toyota Production System) to transactional processes? Here’s the link to the Business Week article, or read on for the executive summary. The takeaways are:
Factories: no walls. Offices: walls, cubicles personal desks. Why?
At Wipro cubicle walls were removed so that the workers handling the transactions would work side by side at long tables. The process flowed step by step down the line (presumably one piece at a time).
Move beyond the “information transactions are not like production” misconception
At Wipro paperwork processing is done like an assembly line with people lined up along tables. Visual signs hanging over the tables identify that these are work stations for AR, Travel, etc. rather than individual desks. The process is designed to flow.
Timing the transactional work
Wipro did time observations and redesigned the work areas to improve productivity.
Team leaders supporting workers and monitoring performance
There is a 10-minute startup meeting each shift. Team leaders set goals at the beginning of each shift. Digital display boards show the status of their performance. A red lamp indicates when there is a bottleneck or a problem (andon) and supervisors can immediately address the problem.
People resist the transition from “craftsman” style work to production line work
At Wipro the changes were made without training and change management considerations. They had to do a reload and train the workers on TPS principles and why things were being changed in the way that they were.
TPS means having a Kaizen mindset
Wipro adopted Toyota’s kaizen suggestion system. These ideas are typically small, local, and practical. Wipro made The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker required reading. Kaizen suggestion boxes were set up. The quick response by management to these small ideas and quick recognition and reward through simple gifts and tokens of appreciation from management keeps morale high.
Measuring results in Lean office
Productivity improved 43%. Rework was reduced from 18% to 2%.
Business Process Outsourcing is increasingly moving back office operations such as call centers, accounting, human resources, claims processing, etc. to India. On the one hand it’s a shame when workers are displaced when these jobs move offshore. On the other hand, here we have a clear blueprint of what we have to do with our remaining jobs, whether they are healthcare, research, government, financial services, or manufacturing, to remain competitive. Aim to be the Toyota of your industry.