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Customer Talk: Ongoing Lean Transformation at MAPFRE

Lean TransformationA culture of continuous improvement and a strong focus on people are key elements in implementing Lean thinking during the transformation of technology departments. The success of this approach is proof that continuous changes to daily routines are more beneficial than radical organizational or technological changes. For phase 1, MAPFRE started to study Lean IT and how Lean philosophy could transform project development and the maintenance of corporate applications in order to increase efficiency and deliver added value to customers. A pilot project was launched in July the same year. A MAPFRE team studied Lean IT thoroughly and determined how it could support a continuous improvement process. The pilot project was limited to the areas of project development and the management of applications related to the life insurance business, and focused on the maintenance of those applications. In the first place, the MAPFRE team focused on searching for and detecting “muda”, a Japanese word used in Lean to refer to various types of waste; in other words, activities that add no value for the customer and which should therefore be eliminated or minimized.

Once muda is detected, staff involved in day-to-day operations act as change agents in “kaizen groups” (continuous improvement groups). Their objective is to eliminate waste: unnecessary waiting time between activities, errors that creep into the process requiring rework, red tape, etcetera.The implementation of Lean demands a radical change in attitude so that the leading role in the continuous improvement process is transferred to the people who perform the day-to-day operations. Teams can only be won over by evidence – results that show clear benefits. In this case, the results provided that evidence:

  • Delivery time was reduced by approximately 60%, from 61.14 days to the current 25.5 days (a reduction of approximately 35.5 days).
  • The level of efficiency rose from 79% to 97%. (The cases that were opened and closed in a single month were measured in this parameter.)

Following the success of this first pilot project, while still working with the initial pilot department, MAPFRE decided to expand the scope of the first wave to include three more departments. The same set of activities implemented in the initial pilot was implemented in these departments. In Q4, MAPFE began to draw up the Phase 2 Transformation Plan to extend the new Lean paradigm.

Phase 2: Lean IT Transformation

Successive waves of improvement were implemented from January onwards. The implementation of the improvements to eliminate the muda detected by each team was broadened further. MAPFRE staff began the transformation, strongly supported by Jorge Thomas Curras, Vice President of Technology Solutions, and José Manuel Inchausti, President of Corporate Business Support at MAPFRE. In this second phase, the key success factor was the preparation of a coordinated and comprehensive global transformation plan. To this end, a set of instruments, that is now part of the daily toolkit of MAPFRE staff, and a set of visual elements were created that have since been fully integrated into the Lean Office:

  • A customised, company-wide notebook (with tools) that contains a description of the experience that is repeated within all groups as they join the Lean transformation, wave by wave.
  • The Lean Office consists of four MAPFRE staff members, who coordinate the various improvement groups which are set up after each department has been analyzed.
  • Panels as visual management instruments to check day-to-day operations during meetings that last 15 to 20 minutes, and to monitor the progress of the improvement plan at weekly meetings, or to allow any staff member to suggest improvements for assessment by the Lean Office. Two rooms were set up specifically for panel work sessions. These rooms, without tables or chairs, are used exclusively for these sessions.

The required training sessions have been organized and the certification plan for the participants has been drawn up.


More than 200 staff members were involved in the transformation process and they have changed the way in which they work as a team. They have new tools and have been trained to use them in their daily activities to simplify their tasks, to stimulate coordination among the various team members and to ensure that deadlines (for testing, delivery, etcetera) are met. The implementation of Lean has injected energy and optimism into the company. This has led to the transformation of staff from being mere spectators into employees who are taking the initiative in the projects and are committed to their work and the new way of doing things. During the implementation, all set targets were measured continuously for each project, including customer satisfaction, efficiency objectives and compliance with deadlines.

Figure 1 shows the development of the Business Support Application Pool for the first Phase. Expectations were exceeded in all areas. Total savings on application development services in the budget are significant and have reached double figures. The change in the attitude and behavior of staff was the key factor in achieving these results. Greater transparency, better communication and higher energy at daily meetings are visible effects of the new Lean attitude that is gradually spreading and producing tangible benefits.

Figure 1: Development of the Business Support Application Pool


Phase 3: The Transformation Continues

New waves are being initiated, implementing improvements to eliminate the muda detected by each team. This is a continuation of the process that was started in phase 1 and 2. The intended scope is to achieve implementation across about 80% of the DCTP Technology Solutions Division. In other technology departments, the Lean implementation is being continued by kaizen groups set up in collaboration with a team from Infrastructure, Architecture & Communications (which handles virtual desktop requests and manages governance requests). Account managers (who maintain contact with business users during the development process) are also participating in the transformation process.

Lean IT

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