How Wipro Adapted the Toyota Production System to IT Work

An article titled How Wipro Took a Leaf Out of Toyota’s Book in DNA – Daily News & Analysis on October 15, 2006 talks of how Wipro has successfully implemented the Toyota Production System in an IT business.
Wipro is an Indian firm providing back office operations handling medical claims and human resource policies for customers around the world. I have commented in a previous blog post about their approach such as the use of an assembly line method for transactional office work.
The article reports that Wipro had previously implemented Six Sigma and CMMI, then found TPS from the local Toyota Kirloskar factory in Bangalore. Wipro has implemented 330 kaizen projects over 1,100 processes, involving nearly 7,000 employees.
What success tips can we take away from Wipro’s adaptation of TPS to IT?
Involve everyone
Sambuddha Deb, Wipro’s Chief Quality Officer is quoted:
“We adopted the lean manufacturing practice of Toyota for the IT industry. We chose it because the Japanese were successful in making it participatory even to the last level.” This implies total participation, if we presume that by “last level” he means front-liner workers.
Gain a sufficiently deep understanding of what you are trying to do, then do it
The article reports that Wipro took one and a half years to learn the Toyota Production System techniques and how to adapt them to the IT industry. This is in stark contrast to many U.S. firms are restless for short term results, and some consultants who promise a transformation in “weeks not months” don’t help the situation. As Taiichi Ohno said, “Understanding means doing”, but doing does not necessarily mean understanding.
Learn together
“There has been no resistance from employees as we have taken them along, improving on their suggestions and learning as we expanded,” says Sambuddha Deb of Wipro.
The book Bangalore Tiger by Steve Hamm claims to explain “how Indian tech upstart Wipro is rewriting the rules of global competition”. The Toyota Production System, CMMI and Six Sigma surely play a big part in rewriting these rules. Wipro’s low labor cost in India certainly gives them a big edge that not everyone can copy. Their approach to applying TPS is something we can.