Manufacturing and service-related businesses are heavily dependent on office and administrative processes, which can add up to 60% of all costs associated with meeting customer demand. The author says that leaning out office environments starts by adapting the definition of waste to the realities of that environment. For example, he says any office activity that adds value or is necessary to perpetuate the business is considered waste if cost-effective computer automation is available.
The technique employed to eliminate this waste of manually performing activities is called "administration automation." It permits users to design processes to meet the needs of their environments, which are then automated without, in the majority of cases, changing source code.
Potential automation hazards are emphasized. For example, simply automating existing processes without eliminating waste and streamlining non-value-added activities can do more harm than good. It may literally be doing the wrong things faster.