Getting More from Your Application Portfolio


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

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

    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.